Through the Eyes of a Snow Man
Many people have a very positive connotation with the word “snowman”. For most, it summons memories of asking Mom for carrots or some spare buttons, and of rolling giant snowballs into a form that resembles a giant ant more so than an actual human being. Such is not the case with the Wallace Stevens poem, The Snow Man. No warm and fuzzy feelings are recalled in a close reading of this single sentence poem. Here, the snowman functions as a metaphor of a metaphor, a device that seems to be frequently used in Romantic poetry. The snowman represents the “mind of winter”, which relates to the abstract concept of true nothingness. Through the use of the image of the snowman, Stevens crafts a poem that deals with ideas of objectivity, human consciousness, and imagination versus reality. In this poem, questions are raised as to whether or not the speaker even believes humans to be a part of the wintry scene that makes up the surroundings, apart from what our own perceptions tell us. The poem begins with a deceptively simple description of a seemingly desolate winter landscape. The images, such as the “pine trees crusted with snow” and the “junipers shagged with ice”, are creatively stirring, and manage to accommodate feelings of morose and possibly misery. As the poem reads on, the reader is taken past the point of imaginative descriptions into a world of nothingness, as cold as the snowman himself.
To truly understand the beauty of the winter scene, it is necessary, as the speaker implies, to view it through the eyes of the snowman. Actually, it even takes it a step further. Rather than viewing it through snowman’s actual eyes, which are probably made of coal anyway, one must actually become the snowman, which is, for all intents and purposes, an inanimate object. By doing this, one is stripped of everything that makes them different from this man made of snow. All outside influence evaporates, and the reader is thrown...
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