Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's sonnet "The Cross of Snow" may be summarized as follows. The poet begins the octave by saying that he sees the face of his deceased wife in a vision during his long, sleepless nights, when the lamplight appears to give her a halo. She died in the bedroom where he now attempts to sleep, and the life that ended there was exceptionally pure and good. No martyr, no saint about whom one might read, ever lived a better or more blessed life than she did. These lines emphasize not only his wife's qualities but her suffering as she died.
In the sestet of the sonnet, the poet shifts the scene to a faraway mountain, on the side of which a cross of snow shines, defying the sun's warmth. He says that he wears a similar cross on his breast in memory of his wife, who died eighteen years ago. Though external circumstances change, his love for her has remained the same since the day she died.
The main idea of the poem, therefore, is the poet's unchanging love for his wife,...
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