Poetic Analysis Essay: “the First Snowfall”

Published: 2021-07-25 13:10:05
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Category: Poetry

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The First Snowfall, written by James Russel Lowell,contains many examples of literary devices, as well as examples of how the devices are presented. In Lowell’s poem, he writes about the beginning of a light snow, conveying the coming of soft winter, and about how the coming winter reminds a man of his daughter who has died. Lowell demonstrates these thoughts through literary devices and figurative languages such as metaphors, imagery and allusion. Here are examples of these devices, and explanations of how they are harnessed in The First Snowfall.
The figurative language in Lowell’s poem is used to communicate an understanding of the complexity or abstractness of a subjects actions. The first four stanzas of The First Snowfall discuss a cold day, in which it starts to lightly snow. Here, James Lowell states “I stood and watched by the window The noiseless work of the sky,…” (Lowell,13-14). Through this statement he uses metaphor in a way to describe the quiet way the snow is falling. Lowell is not explaining the actual work of the sky, but is explaining the melancholy silence of the winter snow that day.
Another example of figurative language here would be when Lowell says, “I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn Where a little headstone stood; how the flakes were folding it gently, as did the robins the babes in the woods” (Lowell, 17-20). In this stanza, Lowell describes the way the snow is falling, and gathering atop of a headstone in the Auburn cemetery. Imagery is another device used in the First Snowfall. Lowell uses imagery well to create a setting for readers, with descriptive words.
He says, “And the poorest twig on the elm tree was ridged inch deep with pearl” (Lowell, 7-8). This quote brings the snow covered trees to mind, by describing how not even the smallest twig of a tree could be left uncovered by snow during the cold winter. Allusion is the the subtle reference to a popular subject such as a place, movie, or book. This device can be seen in stanza three of The First Snowfall. “From sheds new-roofed with Carrara Came Chanticleer’s muffled crow,” (Lowell 9-10).
With this quote, we can see the use of allusion in line 10. “Chanticleer’s muffled crow” refers to an old European tale called the Chanticleer and the Fox. This story is about a rooster, the Chanticleer, and his struggle with a fox who is out to get him. The reference inputs the fact that the Chanticleer crowing in the poem, is a rooster like the Chanticleer in the story. James Russell Lowell takes care in creating an idea of the characters feelings about winter, and how the winter brings out the main characters nostalgia of his passed daughter.
It can also be understood that the main characters dead daughter may live vicariously through his living daughter, in the main character’s eyes. We understand this through his many uses of literary devices. However, the use of figurative language and imagery create a setting and picture of what’s going on in the story; while allusion may add a connection to a common subject that the reader may be familiar to. These are great examples of literary devices and Lowell presents them well in his poem, The First Snowfall.

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