English Commentary- Snowy Morning, by Henry Shukman.
“Snowy Morning” is a melancholy piece about the difficulty and inevitability of saying goodbye to a lifetime of images, sensations and the beauty of the world around us. Shukman uses images from childhood to create a sense of nostalgia as well as establishing a paradox between the fear of death and dealing with death in a facetious manner. In addition to this Shukman uses semantic fields dealing with the senses in order to create a more involved mental image of the scene which the heightens the impact of the haunting rhetorical question at the close of the poem.
Shukman begins the poem with a childhood reference that refers to the idea of death melodramatically, which contrasts sharply with the underlying fear of dying. Shukman states that he used to, “play” at dying which implies that it was viewed as a light subject, something to be mocked in a variety of dramatic ways. However, this is followed by a mention of them fake dying with, “hands clasped to the chest”. This alludes the physicality of the fear felt upon contemplation of death and creates a paradox between the implied fear in, “hands clasped to the chest” and the jocular tone of the preceding lines. The effect of this is to highlight the discrepancy between how we perceive death when amongst others and internally. From this we can infer that Shukman’s message is that although we may show bravado when dealing with death we all feel regret towards our eventual demise.
“Snowy Morning” also sets out to convey a sense of incredulity that we must leave behind the infinite entirety of the Universe and all our thoughts, memories and emotions as we die. Shukman poses the rhetorical question, “ Say goodbye to everything?” This implies that he finds the notion of leaving the world behind so difficult that he needs to seek confirmation. The effect of this is to highlight the overriding theme expressed in the poem, which is a feeling of melancholy and...
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