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The 8 lines short poem Dust of Snow written by Robert Frost is about the poet’s optimism and his message to the readers about finding something positive in the negative things.

The poem has been divided into two stanzas having 4 lines each. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAB. There is a shift of mood from hopelessness and boredom to bliss and hope.


Stanza 1

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

In the first stanza, the poet says that one day, he was on the way which means that he was outside, roaming around in the open. Suddenly in the winter season, a crow shook on him the dust of snow from a hemlock tree.

Here we have three important things which have a significant role in society. First, there is a crow which is black and often considered as the symbol of death, doom and ill-omen. Also, the crow shook snow on the poet and not threw. Thus it is obvious that the crow was shivering with the chilly cold – again a symbol of doom.

Next, we have the dust of snow. The word “dust” reminds one of nothingness. In Islamic and Christian Theology, we have often read,

“dust thou are and to dust thou will return”

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So, dusk again becomes another ill-omen and indicates bad-luck or doom or something terrible.

Finally, we have a hemlock tree. Hemlock is a poisonous tree which was once used by Socrates to commit suicide. Thus hemlock tree is also the symbol of bad-luck or doom.

The poet here cleverly uses all these images to show that his day was quite bad and waste. He was stuck among ample of ill-omens which would have ruined his remaining day as well.

But the stanza ends leaving the reader in thoughts about the worst which might occur soon as the poet has encountered with so many bad-omens at the same time.

One important thing worth noticing here is that the whole poem is written in a single sentence. Though the stanza ends in the 4th line, the sentence has not ended which indicates the continuity of mood.

Stanza 2

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

In the previous stanza, we had guessed that something bad will happen in the final stanza. But all the three things (which are the signs of ill-omens) have rather a good effect on the poet. The poet says that the crow, the dust of snow and the hemlock tree has given a change of mood to his heart.

Ironically, the poet feels good when the dust of snow (which is quite light-weight) falls on him and he feels that some part of the day which was wasted was saved. He is feeling good now.

The poem thus gives us the message that one should never become hopeless and sorrowful when he faces a problem. A person can get relief and inspiration even in the worst situation.

Further Reading