The Snow Man

Stevens’s short poem The Snow Man tackles a tricky philosophical issue in its five stanzas.  While it begins as a seemingly simple and pleasant poem describing an objective view of winter, complete with ‘pine trees crusted with snow” and junipers shagged with ice (1992),” it quickly jumps to issues larger than itself.  The third stanza strays from this winter image and depicts a subjective emotional response to the above descriptions, stating that one “must be cold a long time” to view these images and “not to think/ Of any misery in the sound of the wind,/ In the sound of the leaves.”  Here, Stevens is stating how one’s emotional response, and thus how they see the situation surrounding them is dependent on their perspective, for it is all “Full of the same wind/ That is blowing in the same bare place.”  The final stanza, which states that the listener of the wind sees “Nothing that is not there and nothing that is” is a continuation of this mediation on various perspectives and subjectivism.

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One Response to The Snow Man

  1. vlevasseur11 says:

    I think your interpretation makes sense, but I also thought that the title “Snow Man” was referring to man being composed of nothing but snow; Stevens might be implying that men are becoming reserved and unwilling to actively ponder the difficult parts of life: “and not to think/of any misery in the sound of the wind.” The first line of every stanza seems to describe “the snow man” as someone who does not think, listen, and is frozen or cold (i.e., unable to feel). Do you see this as a plausible interpretation?

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