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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Dust of Snow

77 Comments

  1. Trey says:

    I think that Frost has lost someone close in his life and is in mourning. The day he rued was the death of a loved one is my opinion.

  2. mark says:

    Coming to grips with mortality (the shock of the snow, the crow, and the hemlock tree) allows one to appreciate life more. Frost was not just writing about his own experience, but the human experience.

  3. christine says:

    I think Frost was thinking about the dynamism between the natural world of life/death, yin/yang, luck, chance/ determinism and the fallout from that. (simply put, s**t happens!) CROW ON SNOW
    HIs observation of life/death interaction, its randomness: SHOOK DOWN on ME
    Left him with a new sense of possiblities; a new perspective.
    How would you feel if you observed a crow on a branch, stepping around, letting snow fall from its perch, landing on you? Maybe the snow fell on your upturned face and you had to laugh!

  4. SITANSHU says:

    I am always like the poem by Robert Frost.When I read this poem a someone changes also came in my life.I think that this is about someone vrey pessimistic.

  5. sachin kharat says:

    I have taught this poem to three different groups of stdents. I found a new meaning in these lines. In my opinion that is where the true beauty of this poem.

  6. John Carver says:

    one of my favorite poems- I like the fact that it was written as a sort of “dare” i.e. can you write a poem from any phrase? the phrase was “Dust of snow”

  7. Emily says:

    My favourite poem of all time! Reminds you that hope can be found in the darkest of places. The images of the crow and hemlock tree (which are symbolic of death) would (we naturally suppose) provoke a feeling of melancholy. Instead, ‘it saved some part of a day I had rued.’ Lovely, warming and musical!

  8. rosemary says:

    The hemlock tree Frost knew in New England was probably Tsuga canadensis — a lovely evergreen, not to be confused with poison hemlock — conium maculatum, a tall flowering plant that looks a little like elder (Sambucus sp.) seen in roadside ditches.

  9. Lyn says:

    While walking in the woods the other day, a dust of snow fell down on me from the feathery branch of a hemlock tree and reminded me of the Frost poem. I have always loved its brief and joyous experience. Why analyze it to death? It’s a bit of perfection in every way!

  10. Jaber Alshuga'a says:

    the poem “Dust of Snow” is about nature and how he feels related to nature. This is shown when he says how the crow shook down on him and the dust of snow from the hemlock tree gave him a change of mood. The poem is an explanation to me that he used to think he was superior to nature until nature gave him a change of mood, but kept in his mind how ungrateful he was before.

    With the best wishes for all

  11. BillSalem says:

    Even the title Dust of Snow tells us that it is a cold and deathly omen. The cleric at the grave says: “Remember man, that you are dust.” and one throws dust or dirt on the coffin. The poet’s propensity for interpreting things as bad omen’s makes him think of the dust of snow as a reminder of death. The dark and perhaps scary way the iconic ill omen, the crow, shook the cold dust of snow down on the poet. It was not a heap of snow, just a dusting; enough to get one’s attention, perhaps cause goosebumps. The hemlock tree is another dark symbol. It conjures up death by poison. Socrates. The great philosopher. So the piling up of dark symbol on darker symbol finally adds up to too much gloom. The poet was having a bad day to start with, and now, given as he is, to taking symbolism so to heart, he sees the humor of so much fretting. Perhaps he smiles at how overloaded the imagery is and his own fear. And that moment gives him an insight into how lugubrious he tends to be most of the time. The insight stays with him; whenever he thinks he is being inundated by dark symbols he thinks of that moment and it makes him smile, thus saving that part of an otherwise bad day.

  12. Rhma&sarah says:

    “dust of snow” poem is an experieance of life.It deals with aperson who want to escape from life problems by any way,so when the dust of snow fell on him by acrow that was setting on hemlock tree, directly he think about death that will be the end of his sorrow.the description of the symbols of death “acrow,snow,and hemlock” is meaningful.

  13. MERYAM says:

    While i was readin’ this poem”dust of snow”i noticed that Robert Frost uses lots of figurative language forexample the word “snow” represents the positive aspects in life .Also we can find the two words “crow” and “hemlock tree” which are symbols of negative things like death.and here we can say that life has both negative and positive aspects.so from this poem we have to learn a very important lesson which is that we have always look at the bright side of things after havin’ a bad day or experience.

  14. youyou says:

    actualy,frost’s poem is one of the nicese poems i have ever read.because of its simplicity,it is a richness one;as it represents a human experience in artistic frame,in other words;the poem sum up frost’s life .taking into consideration that frost was educated and grown up in a different surounding than his.there fore,i think it is quite normal to discribe his early life in britain as a dust of snow that freezed his nostalgy or home sickness to words his native country during his childhood.

  15. Crystal says:

    Today my 8yr old who is in the 3rd grade came home with this poem for homework along with a series of questions to describe the meaning of the poem. So after sitting down with my son and helping him to understand I decided to do some research of my own and I am completely dumb founded that he was given such a poem at such a young age when clearly adults can’t seem to understand this poem…at least according to all the other comments.

  16. Tom says:

    Hemlock trees arent poisonous and are completely different from Hemlock. But the name and comparitive smell of them could give an illusion of danger that is a bad event, but in retrospect… isn’t.

  17. Tobias says:

    I read all (many of, anyway) these comments and I just can’t agree with most of them. This poem was written prior to his wife’s death, so I think all of doom & gloom and the interpretations of the crow as death are nonsense.

    Remember, Frost was a poet. Poets, by nature, are often very introspective, brooding deep-thinkers.

    Having snow shaken off a tree on one’s head, and down the back of one’s shirt, is not a pleasant experience. This begs the question, how is this experience better than what had been going on earlier.

    Probably, he was having a pleasant day. That would be rueful for a brooding-poet type because he wouldn’t have anything dark to brood upon. So, getting snow dumped down his back would have been a perfect experience to turn into a wonderful, deceptively simple, little poem for all of us to attempt (without much success, in all likelihood) to interpret.

  18. Siwon says:

    all of your comments have been helpful in formulating my own view of this beautiful poem. i’m currently trying to prepare a presentation script based on this poem and two other poems by Frost, but though all the poems suggest beautiful sceneries and the intricate cycle of nature, it’s kinda wearing off on me…. anyone with the same thoughts?
    Frost’s poems are good, but i just don’t know how are you supposed to direct your points in such a way that you’re saying his poems are deceptively simple. they just look simple, and appears to be shallow and descriptive more than cryptically commenting on the society or his views on religion. i just don’t get how you people can come up with such varied responses to a simple 8-lined poem like this.

  19. Jean says:

    This poem shows how you should consider about optimism. I’m mostly pessimistic, so after reading this poem it made me think about how I should change my ideas. I think this poem is one of the best poems I’ve ever read^-^*

  20. Anne Johnson says:

    I view this poem as a clearer view of my “bad luck” childood. The crow being the parents I inherited and the dust of snow as a gentle relief and hope for the future. It certainly has given me a change of mood and a positive outlook for the future. This poem just “popped” into my mind a few weeks ago when I was really struggling with something in my personal life.
    Oh, what the unconscious can do!

    It is one of my very favorite poems.

  21. Ashok Limaye says:

    What can be the best example of optimism than the poem – Dust of Snow ! Great poet Robert Frost has given this great message through a short poem.

  22. Gee says:

    Sincerely, this poem is one of the best poems I have ever heard of or read. There are so many interpretations to this poem that I could talk about it for ages, but instead of that, I’m going to explain the way I see it.

    The way a crow – The crow represents the death and is a symbol of bad luck. Since crows are dark, they represent the comparison of good (snow, white) against evil (crow, black). Not only is this understandable but something interesting is that “Black-Krow on Snow” is currently my “MSN” nickname and it has been so for a long time. In some way, Robert Frost and I share the same thoughts. It might be a reason for which I have become a fan of most of his work. He has probably gone through “dark, sad, black” parts of life, just like me, and then…

    Shook down on me
    the dust of snow – The narrator receives “dust of snow” on him. The act of receiving represents a trigger. The dust of snow is another comparison of “good” against “evil” or “clean” against “dirty”

    From a hemlock tree – This is the part that has exploded in my mind when I looked up in an Internet dictionary and learned that hemlock is a dangerous and venomous tree specie. Add this to the crow and you notice an extremely powerful coincidence and aura of death and bad luck. This creates an enormous sensation in me, just like anxiety. It pretty much describes the worst thing you would encounter.

    Has given my heart
    A change of mood
    And saved some part
    Of a day I had rued – This represents the reaction created by the trigger. It triggers a good feeling in the narrator because the all of this makes him realize that his “rued” day was nothing bad compared to this. In fact, it was so extreme compared to his bad day that finally, he notices that he has passed a great day and It changes his mood. This means that when Robert Frost went face to face with death, he changed his mind about his life and became more optimistic and confident about it.

  23. Renee says:

    i love this poem

    and its really

    easy to memorize

  24. Lerly says:

    there is sooo much to this poem, the structure and meanings, you can read on forever but never finish interpreting it. i love the way it’s been put together, the abab rhyming format and (as sam said) the 4-4-4-5 syllable showing change in mood. i think Frost is telling us that the tiniest things can make all the difference, this attitude helped Frost out of his own depression after experiencing death in his family. Robert Frost Rules!

  25. I.D.N. says:

    Thanks for all of the interperations of the poems. I used them for my essay and i got 100%. Thanks!

  26. john says:

    i really love this peom but i dont know what is the real meaning but i agree with sam also the interpretation of kyle but i dont want her attitude everyone of us we have different understanding to this peom

  27. Pardus says:

    I am currently studying this poem in college and i am finding it difficult to apprehend your interpretation of this poem. I must say i agree with Kyle, as how exactly have you perceived the rhyming scheme as four seasons? Because the poem clearly talks about one season, that beng winter. I also like to point that ABAB as the crows footsteps may possibly be reaching a little too far into the meaning.

  28. holly says:

    the poem apprears to be light-hearted but after analyzing it, it is obvious that the poem has a deeper meaning. the poem shows that if something should happen to you, you should be happy that something worse did not happen. The crow sybolizes death while the snow symbolizes good fortune or luck. The hemlock tree could symbolize someone or something looking out for the speaker like a friend or God. The last four lines ofthe poem show how grateful the speaker is to still be alive and to have someone looking out for him. The poem shows nature in a different light.

  29. cooper says:

    i think this pome is short and simple and i really enjoy reading it

  30. Yosef Uzbek says:

    i like this poem much! its such a pleasing poem to read and is a great reflect on life and simplist things. short and sweet. thankyou Mr. Frost

  31. Michelle says:

    This peom showed a good example of mood and I thought that using french for the very last word was excelent.

  32. Jessica says:

    it shows that if something small happens to you you should be glad that it is not something worse. Be thankful for what u got

  33. Emily says:

    I am analyzing this poem for English and thank you! Everything that everyone has said is really helping me understand the meaning of this poem.

  34. katherine says:

    im doing an essay on this poem for school and i think that all the reasons that everyone has sumitted are all things that this poem could mean….personally when i first read this poem i thought it was written after his wife died but when i looked it up i found that it wasnt….i believe this poem is saying that your day might start out bad but the simplest things can make it better….

  35. anu young says:

    frost is a poet that deals with the metaphysical aspect of life. in a way he is a romantic poet with a love for nature but a critic to man. he deals with our subconscious mind by elaborating on what we see but not acknowledge all the time, hence i think this particular poem is like a postivity towards distress and tragedy. coz as he said “has given my heart a change of mood”.

  36. Tina says:

    I totally understand this poem the way casey did. I agree it is looking at “bright side” after a bad day. I really like it, it seems positive and happy.

  37. Charli says:

    Hi Sam, I’m currently studying Robert Frost for A-Level too! Your comments are really useful, particularly compared to Kyle’s unnecessary remarks. I think the word you were looking for was ‘no’ as opposed to ‘know’, Kyle.
    I especially agree with the fact that Frost leaves his poems open to everyone’s personal interpretation.
    Where abouts in the UK are you from Sam?
    On the subject of Frost, however, I love the way he takes such trivial actions and transforms them into profound, meaningful observations. My interpretation of ‘Dust of Snow’ is that the use of the lexis ‘crow’ and ‘me’ represents the relationship the narrative voice has with nature, and how nature heals humans whereas they act as a destructive force (found in many of his poems), he creates a balance.
    Also, I feel that the title reflects dichotomy, black vs. white, dirt vs. clean, negative vs. positive. I completely agree with Casey’s interpretation too.
    By the way, does the word ‘hemlock’ have a specific meaning?
    Thanks guys!

  38. edwardo says:

    This poem is like a beautiful woman in the sense that if I see one she will die. That is my feelings towards life because I am very depressed always. This plane of existance is too much to BEAR. grizzly like my mother. BEAR. life is too much to bare.

  39. KMBHB says:

    To David from the Phillipines and Mike from the United Kingdom:
    Thanks for your comments! I hadn’t lingered on the wording in that first stanza long enough to pick up any symbolic intent. Maybe a “dust of snow” sent by the crow in the hemlock tree could represent a brush with death that helped the speaker appreciate life a little more. The beauty of poetry is that we can take from it what we need at the moment, and/or interpret it according to our own life experiences.

  40. KMBHB says:

    To Kyle:
    Shame on you for denigrating Sam’s interpretation of this poem. Next time you want to try to feel superior at someone else’s expense, check your spelling! (You dare to call Sam ignorant?) Next, you have the arrogance to speak for all by implying that we couldn’t relate to the character in the poem because we never reach optimism (your interpretation of what the poem is about). I’m sure many readers will agree with me that they themselves have been filled with optimism, or perhaps rescued (my interpretation based on the word “saved”)from their pessimism, which appears to be your negative inclination.

  41. Tonie Arckless says:

    this poem is difficult to understand however treying to understand how Robert Frost feels when writting these is slightly easier

  42. harry says:

    i think kyle from the us needs to chill out. you dont understand that none of frosts poems are written with one specififc meaning or connotation in mind, and, Frost surely intended the readers to seek their own personal interpretations of his works. Maybe Sams plain grapgological interpretation of the poem didnt fit what you had in mind, but it doest mean you have to be a stuck up twat about it.

  43. casey says:

    I’m not a poet nor an english student but I have a great respect for poetry. After reading this poem I have come to a different understanding of it’s meaning but please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. The poem seems to deal with the positives found in negatives. Much like the wisdom gained from disciplin, I love it’s possitive out look and am greatful to find others who agree. Thank you

  44. kyle says:

    Sam –
    that was by far the worst assesment i have ever read. i am aware that you were only trying to help but it would have been more help if you would have just shut your ignorant mouth. First of all tere is know way of assuming that the 4 lines represent the seasons for there is no corralation. Also, you stated that we can identify with this character which is ironic because this poem really represents optimism, which is by far what people never reach in their lives. This may be your favorite poem, however, you dont understand it at all.

  45. lucy f says:

    i love robert frost he has helped me through depression. i love girls. i love reading poems in spare time. all my love girls xxxxx i love ema.

  46. sam says:

    some of the comments made are particularly helpful for my a level assesment on robert frost. i have a number of comments i wish to share on the poem to help people like me who are studing it.the abab rhyme scheme sounds very like the pattering of the crows feet on the tree. the 4 lines rep the 4 seasons. thge 4-4-4-5 syllables reps the change of mood. the black crow reps misfortune and the white snow reps good. i think this poem is quite catchy as even me as a v literal person am getting into it and know it almost off by heart. my fav frost poem so far is the most of it because the man is someone we can all identify with at some stage in our lives.

  47. gordon says:

    i luv rob frost. this poem has helped me through my suicidal days

  48. gordon says:

    this poem helped me through rough times in my life. I feel like a better person from it. I love Robert Frost.

  49. stuty says:

    This poem reminds me the gloden days of my life.The moments which i cherish till now.And makes me feel proud of achievements personally.

  50. GM says:

    Everyone is sayin stanza 2 is positive but if you read it carfully there is nothing there to suggest that. The poem has been cleverly writter so it can be taken either way.

  51. Captain Lovemaker says:

    dont forget about the contrast in the possitive and the negative, 1st stanza being negative and 2nd being possitive

  52. Kyla Bryant says:

    To be honest, i don’t real;y like this poem of Frost’s. It’s plan and boring, he has written so much more better work for example The road not taken. It’s more deeper than this poem.

  53. Rachel says:

    I had to analyze this poem for my English II Honor’s class and I think this poem can be so deep if you just stop to read read it through a few times. Don’t let things in life get you down, but when they, let simple pleasures like nature’s snow life your spirits.

  54. Chen Bo says:

    what a nice poem s

  55. ankit kumar jain says:

    this is the very good poem written by sir robert frost as i concluded by it that it is quite useful for that kind of person that got depressed by taking some small things & it give a very high confidence & boosting power for them.
    thanks.

  56. miss penny says:

    Reading this poem has been very timely for me. The season of life I am walking through right now is winter. It seems as though my life is barren and unfruitful and the days are gloomy. Yet, there have been stimulating and surprising moments along the journey. Some of the freshest, purest encounters have been unexpected, from above, and even arranged by the most ill-regarded people. Like crisp new snow, these encounters have awakened me from the doldrums, caused me to look up, and triggered a smile. Even the darkest days seem so much brighter when you’re looking up and smiling.

  57. Jennifer says:

    Robert Forst’s poem Dust of Snow reminds me when I am having a terrible day and when I think things can’t get worse, I see someithing or experience something that puts the importnat things into perspective.

  58. Kelly H. says:

    I really liked both the flow and content of this poem. I can relate to the meaning of this poem becuase I can remember having bad days when suddenly, the smallest thing happens that enlightens my day and causes me to laugh. Many times, it is the small things in life that enlightens our spirits and cause us to think about what is really important.

  59. Mike says:

    This is one of the darkest of all Frost poems, but presented in such a way as to turn convention on it’s head. It’s printed in all his books as two 4-line stanzas, and that’s how I’m going to refer to it here.

    Consider the imagery of the first stanza: dust, snow, hemlock, crow – all common death symbols. Now note that it’s not merely the existence of these things that prompt the confession of stanza two, but the *way* that they have been brought to the poets attention.

    So essentially, what Frost is saying that having looked at, or having been shown, death in a certain light has actually cheered him up. This is Frost at his most terrifying.

  60. Briana S. says:

    This poem makes me feel uplifted. It makes me think of the “stop and smell the roses” phrase. People need to take some time to appreciate the small things in life so they don’t become overburdened by the events occurring around them. The poem actually makes me think of the first chapter in “The Kite Runner,” of all the things happening around him, he stopped to watch the “kites dance over trees.”

  61. Michaela says:

    This poem was very light and easy to read. I personally enjoyed it because I need to be more like the person in the poem. I tend to dwell on the little things in life instead of seeing the possible good in them. If I were having a bad day, something as silly as snow falling on me would have made me even more upset. This poem put in perspective for me that little things are not worth getting upset over. I can try to find the joy in life’s little things instead.

  62. Kathy S says:

    This poem reminds me how everyday occurances can sometimes have the power to boost moods. Finding joy in the simple things is what makes life so great, and this poem does just that.

  63. Tracy says:

    I am more of a literal person so I did not get a feeling from this poem. However, it did allow me to vizualize this crow knocking snow down on a person. It made me begin to think about snow and the winter season. I liked the way it flowed, which made it easy to see the picture.

  64. Karrah says:

    This poem makes me think of times when you are having a bad day or you are in a bad mood. Something small can happen that will change the course of the day or your mood. Its moments like in the poem that put life back into perspective. We need to learn to enjoy and take in the world around us.

  65. Marissa says:

    I enjoy hearing the sounds of the words in this poem. This poem has a nice relaxing flow to it. Even, though I enjoyed the sound of this poem I do not have a strong emotional response to it. When I read this poem it was not clear what his meaning was. As a very literal person I need more information…I did not make the connection that snow falling on this person would make him feel better about his day.

  66. Chelsea Warne says:

    This poem reminds me of finding the silver lining in the clouds. At the same time as I read this poem I feel sorrow for this man that is made a little bit happier by something so simple as snow. I can feel the sorrow from his day. I feel as though he cannot take anymore and will try to find happiness in the smallest things. I am reminded of myself on a bad day when I find happiness in something simple.

  67. Sarah says:

    This poem reminds me of my personal shortcomings…being overwhelmed by life’s menial tasks. This poem serves as a reminder to keep things positive and in perspective. Reality = things always get done, so take time to enjoy the little things that make life so grand.

  68. jc says:

    i think the dust of snow is a gr8 poem

  69. David says:

    The crow and hemlock are two objects that have bleak characteristics. The crow has been associated with death for ages, furthermore, crows are black, a color that we connect to the darker things in life. The hemlock tree is actually poisonous though not all species are dangerous. So in my humble opinion, the poem illustrates how quickly someone can have a “change of mood” when death looms overhead. It shows us how, death, can actually send a clump of gleaming white hope that will shake us out of our rut.

    That’s how I see it.

  70. Dilshad says:

    I L-O-V-E it………..amazing , awesome………the little things in life that gives me happiness………

  71. victorliv says:

    Dust of snow by Robert Frost only has one sentence divided into two stanzas. The rhyme scheme used in this poem is: a b a b / c d c d. Eye rhyme is used, e.g: “crow” and “snow”. I think this poem inspiring because we have neglected the familiar things beside us too long, and what’s worse, none is willing to remind us and we also want to recognize or accept the fact. One of us need “crow” that has awakened Robert Frost from his depression.

  72. JoJo says:

    I have been read Robert Frost Poems since.. i don’t know when. i have always LOVED his way of writing. The poems that are ten pages long, don’t ever ever rhyme or make sence bug the shit out of me. I get his poems, i love his form, his rythm, his style. HES AWESOME! i especially love the all famous “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… and itook the one less traveled by” Oh man is that one awesome!:)..

  73. Glen says:

    Robert Frost wrote this poem to make people stop and think and appreciate what life has given us. I really like this poem. It makes me think what life is really about

  74. john walsh says:

    its lovely. makes me weak in the knees

  75. Carol Quirindongo says:

    This poem is basically about the author being out in nature and not really taking in the beauty of the wintery scene, when a crow in a tree shakes some snow on him and he begins to realize the beauty before him. This is the change of mood mentioned and the beauty and fun of the day is what is being saved.

  76. robyn milliman says:

    i think that the “Dust of snow” was a good, understandable poem.

  77. Audren Glass says:

    This little poem is big hearted. It gives freely of the re-orientation to the real world that a bit of nature provides.

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