Frost’s “Dust of Snow”

Despite containing the famous “Stoping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Frost’s New Hampshire contains poems that are quite different from those in earlier sections. In some ways these poems about Paul Bunyun’s wife and famous New England witches remind me of Carl Sandburg’s, though I prefer Sandburg’s. Though “Wild Grapes” would certainly make an interesting comparison to “Birches,” I found it difficult to maintain interest in far too many of the poems.

Perhaps that’s the reason I was so delighted with:


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.

The remarkable simplicity of this poem stood in startling contrast to the long narrative poems that preceded it, reminding me of the haiku I spent much of the summer studying.

Of course, it’s greatest appeal is that this is precisely the same kind of feeling I sometimes feel when I go for a walk after a stressful day, and, of course, it doesn’t hurt that crows and snow are also two of my favorites. Nor does the nearly perfect rhyme hurt.

Strangely enough, two pages later there’s another beautiful poem:


Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

This one reminds me alot of the Japanese concept of mono no aware, the awareness of the impermanence of all beauty. Subtly Frost reveals how this natural truth also is true of mankind’s efforts. Every “Golden Age” seems doomed to be followed by a “Dark Age.”