Compare and contrast Emerson’s poem “The Snow-Storm” with Emily Dickinson’s poem “It Sifts from Leaden Sieves.”
In what ways are their depictions of the snowstorms similar and different? How do the differences affect the mood of each piece?
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The mood of both poems is very different. In the Emerson poem, the snow is strong and comes out of the sky like a loud trumpet:
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
In the Dickinson poem, it comes softly, as though being sifted from the sky:
It sifts from Leaden Sieves --
It powders all the Wood.
In the Emerson poem, the storm is strong and fierce - notice the use of the strong words:
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
Notice the lighter touch in the Dickinson poem:
It reaches to the Fence --
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces --
It deals Celestial Vail
In the Dickinson poem, the snow is personified throughout - you almost get the idea that the snow is a person. It is more of an object in the Emerson poem. Both poets use great imagery - but notice the tone of the imagery in the Dickinson poem and how gentle it is compared with the stronger imagery in the Emerson poem. Might this be because one is a man and the other is a female poet (not to be sexist)?
Your turn! Compare the different view of the snowstorm in each poem. Think about your own experience - aren't some snowstorms lovely and peaceful? Aren't some brutal, especially if you are driving in one?
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