Snow, Aldo by Kate DiCamillo

Snow, Aldo”by Kate DiCamillo traces the story of a sudden snow fall, with a man and his dog experiencing it together. The poem explores the connection between man and dog, or on a higher level, man and nature.

“Snow, Aldo” by Kate DiCamillo

 

Summary

“Snow, Aldo” by Kate DiCamillo takes place in Central Park of New York City. DiCamillo watches as a man and his dog come walking through the park. When it suddenly begins to snow, both characters look up at the sky. The man exclaims to his dog, “Snow, Aldo”, Aldo being the name of his dog. The dog wags his tail and the man laughs, both being content in this strange moment. This is the central narrative of the poem, and takes place throughout the first stanza. The poem moves to discuss that idea that DiCamillo, if she were in charge of making snow globes, would put this scene inside. The strange snow in March, and the happiness seen among a man and his dog.

 

Structure

Kate DiCamillo’s “Snow, Aldo” is split into two stanzas. The first stanza measures 18 lines, while the second measures 10. There is no rhyme scheme within the poem, although DiCamillo’s use of enjambment allows to poem to flow cheerily onwards.

You can read the full poem here.

 

Poetic Techniques

Dicamillo varies the line length throughout her stanzas. In doing this, shorter lines are directly contrasted against the longer ones, with the impact being that they stand out and emphasise different ideas in the poem. An example of this is the first shorter line that arrives in the poem, ‘To snow’ being the central narrative event, and therefore emphasised through the shorter line length.

Another technique that DiCamillo uses when writing “Snow, Aldo” is enjambment. Alongside varied line lengths, DiCamillo’s use of enjambment allows lines to being emphasised as many lines run sequentially on to a final line. The final three lines in the poem showcase this technique, with the final line therefore becoming a focus due to the fact that the preceding two lines are enjambed.

 

Snow, Aldo Analysis

Stanza One

Lines 1-6

The first word of the poem, ‘Once,’ instantly suggests that this narrative occurrence that the poet has experienced is going to be of rarity and importance. It is not something that happens every day, and will remain in her memory due to its uniqueness. The whole poem is shaped around this event, which is why the narrative has such a deep focus on it.

The iconic location, ‘New York / in Central Park’ grounds the poem in a physically recognisable location. Even if the reader has never been to New York, the sheer fame of the city enacts a certain amount of connotations. The huge green space among a bustling city could perhaps be seen as a magical location, with DiCamillo using the fame and majesty of the park in order to contextualise her story.

The ‘old man’ and his ‘dog’ are connected through similar descriptives used by DiCamillo, both being having characteristics that are described as ‘black’, the dog’s fur and the man’s ‘overcoat’. This association, although subtle, instantly insinuates to the reader that these two figures have a connection, one which only develops as the poem progresses.

The connotation of ‘springtime’ ground the poem further in setting and time. DiCamillo has used a season that is known for rebirth, with ideas of something new or different appearing or being found in the Spring. Here, the new experience is this narrative event, with Spring being the perfect season to encounter something that will stay with DiCamillo forever.

Lines 7-10

At this point in “Snow, Aldo”, DiCamillo introduces the event which inspires the beautiful moment of connection that the poet witnesses. DiCamillo describes the coming of snow, ‘it began, suddenly,’, the use of caesura either side of ‘suddenly’ further separating this word from the rest of the narrative. The metrical pauses either side of the word emphasise the instant change in which the snow arrives, this magical moment happens out of nowhere.

The arrival of the snow is further emphasised, being on a line by itself, ‘to snow’, the short nature of the line instantly contrasting to the lines that have come before, making it stand out both metrically but also physically on the page. This is the turning point in the poem, after this the event which DiCamillo so dearly remembers begins to take place.

 

Lines 11-18

Again the ‘black dog’ and ‘black of the man’s overcoat’ connect the two characters, this repeated image compounding a sense of friendship and familiarity. Alike their appearances, their actions begin to mirror. First the ‘dog lifted his face’, then ‘The man looked up, too’. This unity in movement further suggests a connection between man and dog, DiCamillo presenting the friendship between these two characters.

It is on the 15th line of the poem that the reason for the title, “Snow, Aldo” is revealed. The man’s dog is called ‘Aldo’, and therefore the man is telling him that it has begun to snow.

The idea of unit continues after this line, with the last three lines of the first stanza examining how the man ‘laughed’ and the dog ‘looked / at him and wagged his tail’, following in suit. The moment is subtle, yet heartwarming, with DiCamillo using the extraordinary joy that seemingly mundane moments can evoke as the central narrative event of the poem.

 

Stanza Two

DiCamillo argues that if she were making ‘snow gloves’, ‘this is what I would put inside’, referring to the event that takes place in the first stanza. Again, the unity between man and dog is a focus of the stanza, with the repetition of ‘black’, and both looking ‘up to the sky’ being emphasised.

The idea that both man and dog are described as ‘two friends’ compounds this sense of unity, with the collection under the umbrella pronoun of ‘they’ showing that they are connected. DiCamillo points out that they ‘receive a blessing’. Yet, it is the fact that they are being ‘blessed together’ that is the focus of the poem, the moment of friendship and connection taking place in the poem the central event.

The final three lines are amongst the shortest in the poem, and are all enjambed, leading naturally to a final climax on ‘March’. Dicamillo has stepped away from the ‘dog’ and ‘man’, returning to the magic of the moment by pointing out the strange rarity of ‘snow / in March.’

The final idea evoked within these lines, that someone ‘simple’ can be the catalyst for an event which stays with someone is DiCamillo’s mechanism to show the simple beauty of life, how the mundane or uneventful can be those moments which become fond memories, the simple being a source of comfort in this story of the friendship between man and dog.

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