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The Snow Man

Wallace Stevens

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Added by: Hugh Gerechter
Only someone with a ‘mind of winter,’ who has been cold for a long time, could look at the snow/ frost/cold and not hear what the sound of the wind is like: ‘misery’;The sound may be a like something to us, but to the listener who is ‘nothing’ himself (who is himself cold and wintry), there are only:
· Things that are solidly there (‘Nothing that is not there’)
· And also sees the essential ‘nothing’ that is there.
Added by: Ryan Karlsgodt
I think here Stevens is talking about the supremacy of nature, how what is percieved as nothing, is actually a great deal of stuff that makes up winter. If you think that a tree bough with snow on it is nothing, what then is a bare tree bough?
Added by: Brendan
One of the big concerns in Stevens's "Harmonium" poetry is the interaction between reality and the imagination, and "The Snow Man" can be seen as a lively instructional piece on how to regard a landscape without our human "baggage" getting in the way. Stevens sets himself up in opposition to the ususal human practice of assigning analogy and metaphor to the things we see ("any misery in the sound of the wind") in favor of having "a mind of winter" and seeing reality as objectively as possible from within the subjective imagination. He does so with some pretty vivid imagery--and all in one splendid sentence.
Snowscape as desert
Added by: Earl Arnold
I find in this poem a meditation on the essential nothingness of the world of appearances, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and Buddhist mystics. The stark, cold landscape of winter lays bare the illusions of life, the daydreams of summer, to reveal "nothing" that lies at the center of existence.
Added by: michael Toolan
The first half of this poem is speculative and ambiguous, the latter half frankly declarative. In that latter half the sound in the wind and leaves *is* the sound of the land, the listener *is* nothing himself, etc. But in the first half, the "One must have a mind of winter not to hear misery" can be read as 'Only the (freakishly) winter-minded, with snowman souls, cannot hear/feel the misery (the rest of us can)'; or 'You have to have (make yourself have) a snowman's winter mind, in order to perceive what's really here (Nothing), rather than sentimentalized attributions of misery'...
But all that is to treat the poem as a kind of logical exercise, when ultimately it reads as something to be experienced. And experientially, the disturbing ideas, at center and close, are the misery and the nothing....
Added by: Suzanne Loomis
At first the beholder sees the nothingness, in the end listens. This transgression from the visual to auditory is a leap the observer in the poem has taken in order to examine his perception. In the end the wind "blows in the same bare place" and the two perceptions have been married. Bringing everything to nothingness allows the "seer" and "listener" to weigh the fundamentals. After all Stevens was a reductionist.
Added by: Craig Mims
I think the speaker here is actually the snow man, as evidenced by the phrase "and, nothing himself, beholds,/nothing that is not there and the nothing that is
passing over death
Added by: Ben Glaser
The absence of the image of the snow man at the center of the poem suggests, as in The Death of a Soldier, that monuments should not be placed where an overarching natural power overcomes the finality of death. Note the Conifers and the January sun as passing over the time of death and carrying the poetic mind, as the clouds continue in "The Death of a Soldier," over desired gaps in conscious poetic life; consider blank or white space in poems, caesuras, stanza breaks as moments when the poem dies and is reborn like morning after evening and spring after winter and Stevens's poetics becomes a delicate interplay of space, detail and the meta-discourse of how death is a force for renewal.
Added by: The Snow Man´s reader
All the text is an "allegory". The Snow Man is an image of a politician.
Snow Drift
Added by: Tyler J McMillan
The snow drifts in the same direction leading to a parallel between what is visionary and what is real.

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