What has happened to the speaker of the poem in "The First Snow-Fall" by James Russell Lowell?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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James Russell Lowell uses the imagery of the falling snow to reflect on his child's death in his poem "The First Snowfall."   Lowell uses details from the poem, such as the "little headstone" being blanketed in the snow as "did robins the babes in the wood."  The speaker's diction choices, especially "little headstone," allude to the fact that a child has died. 

In stanza seven, the speaker reveals more about his loss, because watching the first snow fall reminds him of his "first great sorrow when that mound was heaped so high."  He looks at the new falling snow and remembers the day of his child's funeral; "the mound" refers to the burial mound.  He compares the falling snow flakes to his gradual acceptance of his loss amidst his grief. 

In the final stanza, when he kisses his other daughter, Mabel, and thinks of her little sister who has died, this action is the speaker's way of making an emotional connection to his daughter who has passed away.