Dust of Snow

Dust of Snow

Dust of Snow Summary

Dust of Snow Introduction

About the Poet

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California, to journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., and Isabelle Moodie. His mother was a Scottish immigrant, and his father descended from Nicholas Frost of Tiverton, Devon, England, who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634 on the Wolfrana. Frost was a descendant of Samuel Appleton, one of the early settlers of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Rev. George Phillips, one of the early settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. His notable works are A Boy’s Will, North of Boston, etc. Frost’s father was a teacher and later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin (which later merged with The San Francisco Examiner), and an unsuccessful candidate for city tax collector. After his death on May 5, 1885, the family moved across the country to Lawrence, Massachusetts, under the patronage of Robert’s grandfather William Frost, Sr., who was an overseer at a New England mill. Frost graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892. Frost’s mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult. Although known for his later association with rural life, Frost grew up in the city, and he published his first poem in his high school’s magazine. He attended Dartmouth College for two months, long enough to be accepted into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. Frost returned home to teach and to work at various jobs, including helping his mother teach her class of unruly boys, delivering newspapers, and working in a factory maintaining carbon arc lamps. He did not enjoy these jobs, feeling his true calling was poetry. Frost was honoured frequently during his lifetime, receiving four of his Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry for his book “New Hampshire’. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution.” He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont. He died on January 29, 1963 at the age of 88 in Boston.

Central Idea of the Poem

Through this poem, the poet conveys that worst time often comes in the life of mankind. But a little good thing can change the entire course of action. The crow, dust and the hemlock tree symbolise bad things which make the people believe that something wrong is bound to happen. The poet is in quite disappointed mood. When he comes out of his home to wander in the snow, a crow shakes and snow falls on him. It makes him quite happy. So, the poet conveys that one should hope for the best even in the worst situation.

Dust of Snow Summary

The short poem by Robert Frost throws light upon the unimaginable healing power of nature and tiny things. From a bad mood to ill-health, there is nothing that can’t be cured by nature. The poet was experiencing one such bad day when a crow’s movement near a hemlock tree dusted snow upon him. The soft and cold touch of snow changes the poet’s mood from despondency to happiness. He starts feeling soothed and refreshed. In this way, a simple moment proves to be very significant and saves the rest of the day of the poet from being wasted and held in regret. The black crow is a symbol of death and fear.

Since the crow is not associated with goodness, it is ironic that in this poem, it is doing a good deed by shaking off the snow. The poet uses the elements of the fearsome crow and poisonous hemlock tree to do something good – shake the white, pure snow off the branches.

The poem, “Dust of Snow’ reiterates that the little things in life can make huge changes in our future. It also shows that if we can take the hard times of life in stride, eventually something will happen to change our situation into happier times. The simple things we do for others can make all the difference. Just think about those random acts of kindness we do and how much they brighten our day and sometimes change our future.

Poem at a Glance

On a winter day, the poet was quite upset and sitting under the hemlock tree.
Suddenly, a crow alighted on the hemlock tree.
The snowflakes fell down on the poet while he was sitting under the tree.
The falling of snowflakes on the poet made a tremendous effect on him.
Now, he was feeling refreshed.
It changed the mood of the poet and also his mental state.
A little thing saved the entire day of the poet.

English Dust of Snow Important Questions and Answers

I. Short Answer Type Questions (20-30 words & 2 marks each)

Question 1.
What is the underlying message for us in our hectic life with reference to the poem, ‘Dust of Snow’?
The underlying message for us in our hectic life is that we should enjoy nature more often and should have a positive attitude even towards simple acts because they can lead to the learning of greater lessons of enjoying life.

Question 2.
Why does the poet say that he had saved some part of the day he had rued?
In the morning, the poet was sad and listless. He thought that the entire day would go waste. But, the falling of dust of snow on him changed his mood suddenly. It brought a ray of hope in him. This way he felt that he had saved some part of the day.

II. Short Answer Type Questions (40-50 words & 3 marks each)

Question 1.
Why did the poet use poetically uncommon bird and tree?
The poet appears to be in a depressive and sorrowful mood. In this kind of state, one can not look at the beautiful things which nature has to offer, only gloomy and miserable thoughts strike in one’s mind. Therefore, the poet has used the poetically uncommon bird and tree which reflect his depressed state of mind.

Question 2.
Does the poet present a bright and pleasant side of nature in the poem?
No, the poet does not present a bright and pleasant side of nature in the poem. He presented the situation as a dull and depressive cold day. The fall of fine dust of snow does bring a sudden change in the mood of the poet by uplifting his spirits and refreshing his mind.

Question 3.
What message does the poet want to convey through the poem ‘Dust of Snow’?
The poet conveys that sadness, hopelessness and disappointment do come into the life of mankind. It makes them feel dejected and depressed. But there is always happiness behind sadness. If sadness comes, happiness is bound to come in our life. As the poet was sad and low in spirits in the morning but the falling of dust of snow on him brought a sudden change in his mood. So, we should not get disheartened in any circumstance.

III. Long Answer Type Questions (100-120 words & 5 marks each)

Question 1.
No matter how ordinary or unimportant an incident may be, it’s the reaction or the response that matters. Taking inspiration from the poet’s reaction write how inherent values can be picked up and learnt. Mention any two lessons for students like you that could be useful.
Yes, response matters a lot. Inherent values can be picked up by adopting a positive attitude towards nature, because nature is a great teacher. Each little thing in nature can teach us some important lessons at times and even a small flake of snow has its own significance. We should not judge anything by its appearance. Although crow and hemlock tree are considered as bad omen but even then they can bring cheerfulness in uplifting poet’s mood. So nothing is useless in nature. Nature is very beautiful. One should live one’s present cheerfully.

Question 2.
Robert Frost opens before us a new world in which at times evil doer by chance do a good act before us. Discuss the philosophy of life with reference to the poem ‘Dust of Snow’.
Robert Frost opened a different world before us through the poem ‘Dust of Snow’. It gives us a philosophy of life that at times when we are completely dejected and in bad mood, we get surprised. In fact, it also depicts his philosophy of life through which he passed. In the poem, ‘Dust of Snow’ the poet is wandering in a dejected mood. The whole mood changes when bad omen of crow is shown. Snow falls from the hemlock tree and mood of the poet changes. So evil is released by good luck.

Question 3.
In life, people feel sad and frustrated. It is his thinking that things will never change.
But suddenly change occurs in his life and his sadness is converted into happiness.
Discuss it on the basis of the poem, ‘Dust of Snow’.
Life is full of miseries. The circumstances in life never remain the same. They keep on changing with the passage of time. So far the poem is concerned, the poet is in sad and frustrated mood. At the beginning of the day, he feels sad. He feels that his entire day has been wasted. But, it does not happen. The falling of the fine dust of snow on him brings a sudden change in his mood. He realises that all is not lost. Although he has lost the most part of the day. The change of landscape has changed his mood. His spirits are not listless. The sudden change has changed his heart and mood. So, we should not be sad and disappointed.
Life is a cycle. Happiness and sorrow are its two wheels.

Question 4.
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
of a day I had rued.
What type of change in the mood does the poet talk about? Discuss it with reference to the given passage.
The famous poet, Robert Frost has given a vivid description about the change of his mood. The arrival of a crow and its sitting on the hemlock tree is not a very big incident. It is a very ordinary incident. The poet has used symbolism here. Here crow denotes an ‘ill omen’ and hemlock tree symbolises ‘Poison’. But these things create a deep impression on the mind of the poet. According to the poet, this is a dull and disappointing day and it is not good for him.

But the falling of flakes and dust of snow on him are good or welcome signs for the poet. This phenomenon has suddenly changed the mood of the poet. His mood is now better and spirits are highly enthusiastic. He realises that the whole day has not gone waste. The moment the snow falls on him is the most happiest moment of the day. They lift up his mood and also gladden his heart. Ultimately, he realises that at least some part of the day has been spent happily. Now the moment of disappointment has changed into a happier one.

English Dust of Snow Textbook Questions and Answers

Thinking about the Poem

1. What is a “dust of snow”? What does the poet say has changed his mood? How has the poet’s mood changed?
A “dust of snow” means particles of snow. The poet’s mood changed because of shaking down something from the hemlock tree. He was holding the day in regret when this dust of snow fell on him and this simple little thing brought him some joy.

2. How does Frost present nature in this poem? The following questions may help you to think of an answer.
(i) What are the birds that are usually named in poems? Do you think a crow is often mentioned in poems? What images come to your mind when you think of a crow?
(ii) Again, what is “a hemlock tree”? Why doesn’t the poet write about a more ‘beautiful tree such as a maple, or an oak, or a pine?
(iii) What do the “crow’ and ‘hemlock’ represent – joy or sorrow? What does the dust of snow that the crow shakes off a hemlock tree stand for?
(i) In poems, usually birds like nightingales and sparrows are mentioned. Frost has presented nature in quite an unconventional manner. The poet has used a crow in this poem. A crow is usually not mentioned in poems. A crow is usually considered to be dark, black and foreboding. That is why other poets usually mention singing nightingales or beautiful white doves in their poems.
(ii) A hemlock tree is a poisonous tree with small white flowers. The poet has not written about a more beautiful tree such as a maple, or oak, or pine because these trees symbolise beauty and happiness. Frost wanted to symbolise the feelings of sadness, despondency and regretfulness, that is why he has used a hemlock tree.
(iii) The crow and the hemlock tree represent sorrow and grief. The dust of snow that is shaken off by the crow stands for joy that Frost experiences. He has, therefore, used an unconventional tree and bird in order to contrast them with joy in the form of snow.

3. Have there been times when you felt depressed or hopeless? Have you experienced a similar moment that changed your mood that day?
Several times I felt depressed or hopeless. One day, one of my classmates told me that I had got only 40 marks in English out of 80. At that time, I felt depressed and dejected. But after an hour, the result was announced and I got 75 out of 80. The English teacher also congratulated me on my success, and after this, I felt relaxed and happy.

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