Discuss  the figurative language used by Robert Bridges in "London Snow."

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The lovely imagery of a delightful snow fall makes “London Snow” by Robert Bridges a sensory feast for the reader.  Writing during the Victorian period in England, he transforms every aspect of a typical nature experience into visual and auditory representation. Although the snow is not unusual, the approach to this part of nature makes the reader feel like he too has been asleep while the snow fell in his front yard.

With an eye for detail, the poet evokes the overnight surprise for the people when they awake in the morning and see the snow covering everything.  As the Londoners sleep, the brown of the winter is covered over by the splendor of the “large, white flakes.  “Deadening, muffling, stifling,” the snow seems threatening and constricting, while “veiling” the “road, roof and railing,” it seems to proclaim the luminous snowflakes.

Utilizing several types of figurative language, Bridges first enhances his depiction with alliteration:

Stealthily and perpetually, settling and loosely lying…

Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

Then he goes on to use a series of adjectives to illustrate the silence of the snow as it “silently sifting, roof and railing….” The multi-cultural city becomes a single radiant silence; and the diversity of buildings, a single vision. “Unevenness” turns “even," conflict turns to peace, and blemishes are banished.

This was no average snow fall…seven inches when everyone awakens in the morning. No one dares go out early in the morning.

The children on the way to school are the first to dare the snow.  As they walk along, they gather up the “crystal manna” which is a biblical reference to a blessing from heaven or the shiny snow to taste and freeze their tongues; and of course, here comes the snowball fights.  As the boys walk toward their destination, one of them yells to look at the trees filled with the snow and hanging almost to the ground.  

Finally the rest of civilization begins to venture out into the “white-mossed wonder” [ metaphor--moss to snow].The visage of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the sun shining down on the sparkling beams begins to awaken the day.

The author employs a distinctive metaphor concerning the adults who do not frolic in the snow as the children do; they have to wage a war against the snow to find their way to work. If someone is going to walk through seven inches of snow, it is like a battle that has to be fought to find the best way and hope not to slip on the slick walkway.

The men [another interesting metaphor used here compares the men as they walk in single line to a train], even for them is difficult to conquer. The snowfall’s beauty rids their minds of their worries. Snow’s magic can push away the thoughts of the daily toil. The poem's imagery delights the imagination with interesting word choice to bring the scene to life.

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