"The Snow-Storm" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.
Poems (1921) | Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

  • Begin by reading the poem out loud. Stop at the punctuation, not at the end of the lines, so that the poem flows.
  • In the poem, Emerson uses very descriptive language to paint a picture of the snowstorm in the reader’s mind. What are some examples of this descriptive language? (For example: driving o’er the fields, Seems nowhere to alight or Curves his white bastions with projected roof)
  • Choose one of these descriptive scenes to copy and illustrate.
  • Which lines rhyme? (Trick question. The poem does not use a standard rhyme scheme.)
  • Find examples of alliteration.
  • Find examples of personification.
  • Compare/contrast this poem to “It Snows” by Sarah Josepha Buell Hale.
  • Use this poem as a model to write one stanza of your own about a snowstorm.

Additional Resources

Poetry Dictionary for Kids
If you need help identifying alliteration and/or personification.

Build a Snowman

Online Poetry Anthology
Online Poetry Anthology

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