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Dust of Snow
by Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Dust of Snow is a one sentence poem, comprised of 8 lines which are broken into two four line stanzas. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD.
The first stanza tells us that the poem is told from a first person perspective. We are told that a crow shakes down snow onto the Speaker from the above branches of a hemlock tree. We as the readers are not given any additional information. Is the crow acting in a malicious fashion? Was it an accident? Did the crow even know? We do not know. The Speaker perhaps also does not know. This stanza does not tell us why this occurrence was even worth mentioning.
The second stanza explains to us why the Speaker is sharing the story. Line five directs readers to the Speaker’s heart and we read in the second stanza that the otherwise insignificant incident is significant because it changed his mood. Somewhat surprisingly, rather than the Speaker’s mood being made worse by the unexpected snow that was dropped on his head, his mood is instead lifted. We read that the incident “saved” a part of his day. The Speaker does not say why but we can infer that perhaps he found humor in it. Most people can relate to the experience. Sometimes insult to injury produces a laugh instead of even more anger.
It is interesting that a crow was the source of the change. Crows are often associated with death, fear, or danger. Here, the crow – with black feathers opposite in color to the white snow – and its potential intention to bring misery instead brings levity. Perhaps the snow – which is itself associated with purity – nullified the ill intentions.