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The Snow Man

The Snow Man

by Wallace Stevens

The Snow Man

Symbol Analysis

The snow man? What snow man? Outside the title, we don't see any cold, spherical, carrot-nosed plump dudes around. Which means the snow man must be a metaphor, or—dare we say—symbol of something. But what? Is he the listener at the end of the poem? The mind of winter at the beginning? Let's dig in and find out.

  • Title: Our first glimpse of the snow man tells us zilch. All we know when the title comes around is that this poem's gonna be wintry. But will that even come into play?
  • Line 1: We can't prove that the snow man in the title has a mind of winter, but we're betting that if anyone can pull that off, it's the snow man. Especially if he's abominable. 
  • Line 4: If the snow man does have a mind of winter, we learn here that he's also one cold dude. 
  • Lines 7-8: Having a mind of winter, the snow man can listen to the cold winter wind and not feel miserable, or think the wind is miserable either. Here, the mind of winter—the snow man—enjoys a nice distance from any of those pesky things we call human feelings. He sees the world for what it is…
  • Lines 10-12: … which is an empty landscape, devoid of any meaning that he doesn't give it. That "bare place"? It's bare because the snow man's mind isn't projecting junipers and spruces and, well, misery onto it. Without the snow man's projections, the land isn't much of anything at all. 
  • Lines 14-15: Thanks to his mind of winter, the snow man, who by now we're already conflating with the listener from line 13, sees nothing while looking out at a wintry scene. The snow man/mind of winter/listener sees only what is there—which is nothing—and nothing that isn't there.
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