The boy in the poem is imaginary. Unlike the ice-storm that leaves its traces, the speaker only imagines the boy. The speaker imagines the boy as a younger version of himself. We learn that the boy represents the specific time in the speaker's life that was filled with simple pleasures, adventures in nature, and idle hours. The boy is the Romantic version of the speaker's desire to commune with nature, reaching to the heavens but never getting there.
- Line 3: The speaker imagines a boy has bent some birches out of shape.
- Lines 23-27: The imaginary boy lives in a "pastoral" world, meaning that he is closely tied with animals and spends most of his time happily playing in nature.
- Lines 28-32: The boy is also a metaphor for the rugged, American individual. He has struck out into the land that is his by birthright and conquered anything there was to conquer. This individual often stands as a metonymy for America's Manifest Destiny towards the continent (and world).
- Lines 33-40: The boy learns moderation and sensitivity towards his natural environment. His mastery of nature does not create a large "footprint."