hello, I'm sorry this is not really a question but I was wondering if I could get some feedback on my analysis of "Buck in the Snow" by Edna St Vincent Millay. I was studying for my IGCSE boards and hoping someone could just read my answer and give it a score out of 25. Thank you!   The poem “The Buck in the Snow” by Edna St Vincent Millay talks about the mysterious murder of a buck and the nature's reflection to it; all of this while making reflections about death. She depicts the difference between life and death by the use of powerful diction and imagery that forces the reader to think deeper about the subject at hand.   The first stanza has a uniform rhyme scheme which conveys an idea of a utopian world. It begins with the words “white sky” which creates a feeling devoid of color or liveliness which conflicts with the white that signifies peace and this contrast plays with the readers emotions. The use of pathetic fallacy in the phrase “hemlocks bowed” mimics the posture of a person paying respect which adds to the solemnness in the atmosphere. The first line foreshadows the death of the buck.   The apple which has biblical connotations paired with the repetition of “I saw them” again hints at the eventual death of the buck. The line highlights her appreciation of the beauty of nature as well as her sense of despair at being solitary which anticipates the loneliness of the doe once the buck is dead. The phrase “long leaps lovely and slow” is an example of assonance and alliteration which echoes the feeling of beauty and freedom. It also maintains a slow pace even while describing the buck and does vitality which differs greatly from the sudden flash of death.   The “stone wall” is a metaphor that describes life and death as once the buck which was healthy and strong leaped over the stone wall he was met with death. The first stanza also has a uniform rhyme scheme which conveys an idea of a utopian world.   The second stanza is in the form of a single line that imitates the “stone wall” as it divides the first stanza which emphasizes on the joys of life from the second one that focuses on the consequences of death. The blood represents warmth and contrasting with the cold snow also strengthens this idea. The bucks death was insignificant as it is summed up in one line and this idea is further reinforced in the last line of the poem.     A “ strange thing ” is repeated and encourages the reader to contemplate the idea of life and death. It almost seems as though the narrator does not truly understand the concept of death.   In this particular situation, death could, she states, have moved from “Under the heavy hemlocks” which are moving under the weight of the snow they bare. It could already be on its way to its next victim. The speaker does not doubt that the next victim could be another innocent creature, perhaps even the doe herself. “Fall a feather of snow” may suggest that the nature is crying as the snow falling portrays tears falling which enlarges the feeling of sadness. It reinforces the main message that life is sudden, strange and unexpected and can pass from a joyable moment to a dreadful one. Therefore, she reminds us that we can still cry and pay homage to the dead.   The last line slightly conflicts with this thought. The doe in the last line has “attentive” eyes which may imply that it is no longer grieving for the dead buck but now is trying to look out for itself. The life of a loved one now forgotten . As I mentioned earlier, the death of the buck may be seen as insignificant and this is implied as the doe moves on from the death quickly. Hence, death can occur anytime and is of minor importance compared to the larger aspect as in the cycle of life and death. To conclude, Millay’s poem presents us a shocking, vivid scene of an animal dying. Facing this scene forces the speaker, and the reader, to think more directly about death and accept the reality that death is an inevitable part of life.    

Expert Answers

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This is a sophisticated reading for an IGSE level student and an impressive first draft. There are a few strategies you could use to make it stronger.

Strategically, it is important to show that you understand the difference between an "analysis" and a "summary." Although you are, in fact, doing a substantial amount of analysis, your introduction and the structure of your paper do not clearly signal that distinction. Organizing the paper simply by following along the poem stanza by stanza tends to look like summary. Thus you might restructure your essay as follows:

  • Introduction specifying what elements of the poem you will discuss in what order
  • Meter, rhyme, and other sonic devices such as alliteration
  • Religious themes and symbols
  • Themes of love
  • Themes of death
  • Conclusion: how all these work together

Within each section, you can follow the order of the poem, but the sections should be separated by theme. Transitions between sections can show how these themes or elements are related.

Next, careful proofreading is important. The title "Buck in the Snow" belongs in quotation marks using "title case" for capitalization. The phrase "the natures reflection to it" is puzzling; "nature's" as a possessive requires an apostrophe. The phrase "readers emotions" should be "reader's emotions." Vocabulary and syntax are generally sophisticated and appropriate for work at this level.

In the sentence:"death could, she states, have moved from “Under the heavy hemlocks” which are moving under the weight of the snow they bare" do you intend "bear" rather than "bare?" Also the repetition of "move" is infelicitous; perhaps consider substituting a synonym.

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