Dust of Snow

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.


This poem is in the public domain.

About this Poem

“Dust of Snow” was first published as “A Favour” in the London Mercury vol. 3, no. 14 (December 1920) and again as “Snow Dust” in a January 1921 issue of the Yale Review before appearing under its current title in the collection New Hampshire (Henry Holt and Company, 1923). Laurence Perrine, former professor of English at Southern Methodist University, in his comment “Frost’s Dust of Snow,” published in The Explicator vol. 29, no. 7 (1971), writes that “‘[t]he way’ in which a crow shakes down dust of snow on Frost’s speaker is left unspecified, thus permitting several possibilities. I see them chiefly as four: beautifully, animatedly, cheerily, and humorously. First, the poem presents a scene of visual beauty, black etched against white, the movement of the scattered snow counterpointed against the immobility of the evergreen tree. Second, the action of the crow presents a bit of life and animation in a scene otherwise frozen and without sign of life. Third, the scattering of the snow on the speaker is almost an acknowledgment of his presence, a greeting, a communication between the two living actors in the scene. Fourth, the snow’s falling on the speaker suggests a touch of humor, as if the sly crow were playing a practical joke on him. The beauty of the action, its evidence of life, its suggestion of a greeting, and the touch of humor in it combine to lighten the mood of the speaker.”