This short poem by Hardy describes the scene when the suburbs of a city are covered in snow and the way in which the landscape is totally changed as a result. What is interesting to note is the way in which the beginning of the poem starts by using a number of very key and vivid images to communicate the scene:
Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
The alliteration of the "b" sound and the way in which the fork of branches are described as being "like a white web-foot" and the streets are now "mute" help to convey the change that has taken place. The snow is personified in the next line, as the snowflakes have "lost their way," and "waft of wind" uses both alliteration and onomatopoiea to help enact the sound of the wind as it comes.
The danger presented by this scene is reflected in the snow that nearly "inurns" a poor sparrow as he gets covered in snow, and with the picture of a "wide-eyed and thin" cat that is taken in at the very end of the poem.
In this poem, Hardy describes in detail the transformative effect of snow on the English suburbs. To begin, Hardy uses imagery to convey this transformation. The twigs are so weighed down by snow, for example, that they are "bent" out of shape. Moreover, the snow is responsible for silence ("mute") on every street. This is an example of an auditory image, and it is designed to immerse the reader in this snowy scene.
Hardy also uses personification in his poem as a means of bringing this scene to life. The snowflakes, for instance, are given human qualities as he charts their progression: some are lost while others meander along their route.
In addition, Hardy uses alliteration to create pleasing sounds for the reader. This is significant because it reflects the beauty of this snowy scene. In line eight, for example, Hardy repeats the f sound, and he repeats the s sound in line 16.
Finally, by using these literary devices, Hardy creates a gentle and pleasant tone in which he expresses his respect for nature and highlights its inherent beauty.