Afterlife: the complete emptiness
Wallace Stevens (1879–1955) wrote most of his poems during the world wars period, which took the lives of millions of people. As a result, Wallace Stevens started to question the importance of religion in the modern era, and felt that you should enjoy your life in the present and not waste time living for an afterlife. In his poem “The Snow Man”, Stevens describes a harsh winter environment creating a unique dramatic situation through an effective imagery. He leads the reader from a relatively objective description of a winter scene to a subjective emotional response. Roberts Pack’s essay on “The Snow Man” discusses the idea of perception, while David Perkins while focuses on the relationship between imagination and reality through the perspective of the snow man. Is Wallace Steven concerned with imagination and reality, or perception? In “The Snow Man”, the atypical syntax and logic of the poem, as well as the usage of imagery, compels the reader to perceive the poem from an untraditional in order to both understand the role of nature and realize its very theme is death. The title of the poem “The Snow Man” is very confusing for the reader. At first we “visualize balls of snow placed on top of each other, coals for eyes, a carrot nose” as Perkins implies, and don’t see the relation with the poem. But after a few readings we discover the snow man and the listener are one individual. The lines “One must have a mind of winter” (1.1) and “And have been cold a long time”(2.1) indicate in my opinion the listener is dead. Why so? Winter implies cold, and cold equals death. So if the snow man has a mind of winter, it means he is dead. The snow man is indeed an image to describe this dead body, which is recovered by ice and snow. It is also a symbol of the cycle of life, which always ends with death. Once spring is here, the snow man will melt, it won't last forever. Just like a dead body would decompose, and turn into dust. In...
Cited: • Wallace, Stevens. “The Snow Man”. The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry. Jay Parini. New York. Columbia University Press. Page 310. Print.
• Pack Robert. Wallace Stevens: An approach to his poetry and thought. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1958. Copyright © 1958 by Rutgers, The State University.
• Perkins, David. A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist Mode (Cambridge: Harvard U P, 1976), 542-544
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