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.
Question 1: What is a “dust of snow”? What does the poet say has changed his mood? How has the poet’s mood changed?
Answer: The snow falls like cotton flakes and settles on trees. When fresh it is having a powdery consistency. The dust of snow falls on the poet as a crow shakes the branch. This pleasant snow shower changes the poet’s mood. Poet was feeling negative because of some reasons and after the snow dust he is feeling happier.
Question 2: How does Frost present nature in this poem? The following questions may help you to think of an answer.
Answer: The poet Robert Frost explains a vivid picture of the nature. For him a crow is playful creature hopping from one branch to another. The hemlock tree is a poisonous plant with small white flowers. This explains the coexistence of diverse moods in nature. The poet’s initial mood can be compared to that of a hemlock tree, and the later mood is like that of a flower. Snowflakes are explained as something which should be enjoyed. Moreover, the contrast of black crow with white snow is also mirroring the bad and the good mood of the poet.
Although, the poet has mentioned just three things; but with the limited number of things and limited number of lines; he has explained a pleasant passing memory of a day to day life.
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Question 1: For Frost, what do ‘fire’ and ‘ice’ stand for?
Answer: The word ‘desire’ in the poem indicates towards all type of greed and lust. In today’s world also humankind’s greed is endangering the very existence of the planet earth.
The word ‘hate’ in the poem indicates towards hatred and indifference which is as cold as ice. If we compare this with people’s attitude towards each other in modern times we can see the hate for each other among different communities. Hate between two nations is a surefire way to hasten the end of this world.
Question 2: What is the rhyme scheme of the poem? How does it help in bringing out the contrasting ideas in the poem?
Answer: Desire propels us in hot pursuit of something, hence a good comparison with fire.
Hate makes us cold towards other’s progress and we try to shut our eyes towards that progress. The coldness of ice can numb your senses; that is why hate has been compared with ice.
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