Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Richard Wilbur's poem Boy at the Window

16 Comments

  1. Claire Smith says:

    What is the irony in this poem?

  2. Amal says:

    the boy was feel pity for a snowman and the snowman was fell pity for him the both fell sorry for each other .the boy tears was made the snowman move even ” Having no wish to go inside and die ”
    “His tearful sight can hardly reach to where ” why and for whom are that tears ?
    also in other deeper point of view no one can be instead of the others and if we tried to be we will lost the boy was crying for the snowman as seeing stand alone in a coldness but the snowman made to be like that
    he should live like that whether will milt
    we can understand so many thing from the poem 1-in this life the are diffrent people but some poor some rich .why?
    some do may sin some less .why?
    every one has diffrent life from each ther and some time we ask why?coz every one live and grown up in diffrent way
    2never judged before being in that person shoes (both was understand the other situation from their point of view if u wanna jude some one even think of that person shape

  3. noone says:

    what are the key literary elements in this poem, i know that there is personification and allusion and imagery. is there anyothers?

  4. Helen S. says:

    This is my understanding of the poem. There is more that I haven’t caught i am sure, there always is. 🙂

    Seeing the snowman standing all alone
    (The boy sees the snowman as sad and alone)
    In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
    (“cold” and “dusk” have negative connotations showing the boys pity)
    The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
    A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
    (“gnashings” means to grind teeth in pain.)
    His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
    The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
    (“pale-faced” gives an image of illness that we relate to the world)
    Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
    As outcast Adam gave to paradise.
    (This is a biblical reference to Adam and Eve. They were happy before they gave into temptation and chose another life. This can be compared to the boy and the snowman, if they lived they lived the others life, they would be unhappy or die)

    The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
    Having no wish to go inside and die.
    (The snowman can only live in his world because he would die otherwise.)
    Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
    Though frozen water is his element,
    (Frozen water is his comfort, but seeing the young boy cry makes him feel pity for the boy.)
    He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
    A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
    For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
    Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.

    As the boy fears the for the snowman’s life the snowman pities the boy for the boy’s life. They both misunderstand and have a different perception of each others life. This also shows that we can only live our own lives, and not completely understand other’s lives.

    Don’t just use this though. interpret the poem for yourselves, you’ll get more out of it.

  5. Janice Brough says:

    Studying this for Higher English here in bonny Scotland. Our class has analysed this poem and have come to the conclusion that the theme is perception and misinterpretation, perhaps misunderstanding. The boy is unneccessarily sad to see the snowman outside alone in the cold and storm. The snowman is worried about the boy being surrounded bu “such warmth, such light and so much fear”. Each thinks the other is in a dangerous situation, the snowman thinks the boy is going to melt in the heat and the boy thinks the snowman is going to die of cold out in the storm. It is a lesson to make us realise that everything we see in another’s situation may not be as it seems, and we must try to put ourselves in others’ shoes before we make judgements on others and how they are living

  6. jasmyne says:

    hay. this poem is cooly.

  7. nicolle says:

    hi !!! i really like this poem it’s really amazing & cute ♥

  8. Antwonette says:

    I think the snowman is content because in the house he wouldn’t be able to live. He would die in the house so of course he is content outside.

  9. Daniel says:

    dan here, I’m 8 and fo to edc and this is how i think is what the poem means
    I think this poems is a good example of how people misinterpret other’s situations it shows that one’s view of pain and anguish might be contradicted by another view

  10. Chelsea says:

    I really like this poem as well. I’m thinking there is a theme of pity to it, but this is just my opinion.

  11. Elisa says:

    I live in California and I am doing a paper on this as we speak, this poem is about a boy feeling sympathetic for the snow man, wanting him to come inside because the snowman is isolated and whatnot, but the snowman does not feel isolated at all, he is “none the less content,” because the snowman has no feelings about anything, the writer did a really good job using personification and imagery to let the readers understand more of the essence of the poem.

  12. alexander says:

    Hi,

    i’m from Belgium and I had to read this poem as a project for school.
    And I really like this one, you can put so much antogonisms in this poem like the rich, civilised man (boy) and the man living in nature (snowman) or any kind of antagonism. That’s why I like it so much.

    thanks

  13. Christina says:

    This poem has been one of my favourites for a long time and I’ve done many projedts around it, so for anyone who wants the emaning you can add my email or catch me at http://www.myspace.com/christina_n

    Thanx

  14. christina says:

    hi i really like your poem that u posted i actually heard the reader read this yours is lot’s of help (not) 😛

  15. Kelly Peterson says:

    Hey Courtney funny I found your posting! I like this poem to but it is har to find the meaning if andyone gets it let me know!!!!!! C ya tomorrw courtney

  16. courtney clark says:

    i really like this poem. I am 13 and go to shawnee middle school in lima.OH where we are doing a pem project and I got stuck looking through this piem and deciphering what it means and the main idea. I finally got it and i think that it is a great poem. so i congradulate you on and it.

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