Study Guide

The Snow Man Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; (1-2)

When's the last time you really regarded anything? We mean, we're sure you see trees out your window all the time, but we doubt you regard them. So what's Stevens's point? That seeing isn't enough. When it comes to phenomena outside ourselves, we have to work hard to regard, to behold, and to perceive.

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind, (5-8)

Confession time: Shmoop has totally called the wind miserable. And bitter. And mean. But was that really fair? According to Stevens, probably not.

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place (9-12)

Wait a second. What happened to all those frosty boughs and glittering branches? In this case, the natural world seems to have gotten a bit bleaker than we remembered it being from the first two stanzas. But in Stevens's world, bleak probably isn't a fair term to use either. This is just the natural world, stripped of our all our imaginative perceptions. Nature is just itself hereā€”no flourishes, no embellishments, no fluff.

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