Over the wintry

Natsume Sōseki

‘Over the wintry’ by Natsume Sōseki is a short, evocative poem that captures the desolate beauty of a winter landscape. It’s written in the form of a haiku.


Natsume Sōseki

Nationality: Japanese

Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916) was a Japanese novelist and haiku poet.

Through poetry, Sōseki delves into the complexities of the human psyche.

Key Poem Information

Central Message: Winter is a time of desolation and loneliness

Themes: Beauty, Journey, Nature

Speaker: Unknown

Emotions Evoked: Fear, Sadness

Poetic Form: Haiku

Time Period: 19th Century

While Sōseki may be better-known for his novels, his haiku, like this one, also demonstrate his skill with language.

The poem was originally written in Japanese and has since been translated into English. Through minimalistic yet evocative language, ‘Over the wintry’ evokes a sense of stillness and desolation, painting a poignant picture of the winter landscape and the forces of nature at play.

Over the wintry
Natsume Sōseki

Over the wintryforest, winds howl in ragewith no leaves to blow.


‘Over the wintry’ by Natsume Sōseki vividly captures the desolate beauty of a wintry forest. 

The poem begins with the image of a harsh winter setting where the forest stands bare, devoid of leaves. The winds howl fiercely, raging through the barren landscape carrying anger and turmoil.

 Sōseki’s choice of words emphasizes the solitude and harshness of the winter season, with the absence of foliage intensifying the impact of the gusting winds.

Structure and Form 

‘Over the wintry’ by Natsume Sōseki is a concise three-line poem that takes the form of a traditional haiku. It consists of three lines, a form that’s sometimes referred to as a tercet or a triplet

The brevity of the poem contributes to its impact, emphasizing the starkness and simplicity of the wintry landscape it portrays. The poem also employs the literary device of enjambment, where the thought flows from one line to the next without any punctuation or pause. This technique enhances the sense of continuity and fluidity, allowing the reader to seamlessly move from one line to the next.

Literary Devices 

In this poem, the poet uses a few literary devices. For example: 

  • Personification: can be seen when the poet imbues something non-human with human characteristics. For example, the winds are personified as they “howl in rage,” attributing human emotions and actions to the natural element.
  • Imagery: can be seen when the poet uses particularly effective images that trigger the reader’s senses. The poet uses vivid imagery to depict the wintry landscape, such as the howling winds, the barren forest, and the absence of leaves.
  • Enjambment: occurs when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines one and two.
  • Symbolism: occurs when a poet imbues an image with added, sometimes hidden, meaning. For example, the wintry landscape and the howling winds can be seen as symbols of desolation and isolation. 

Detailed Analysis 

Line One 

Over the wintry

The poem begins with an integral piece of information— the setting and time of year. The brevity and simplicity of this line immediately draw attention to the winter season, setting the thematic tone for the rest of the poem. By using the word “wintry,” the poet emphasizes the cold and harsh conditions associated with winter. 

The absence of an article before “wintry” gives the line a somewhat abstract quality, suggesting a general state or atmosphere rather than a specific wintry scene.

The use of the preposition “over” adds a sense of movement and perspective, suggesting that the speaker or reader is looking down upon or observing the wintry landscape from a higher vantage point. This creates a visual image of the vastness and expansiveness of the winter setting.

Furthermore, the poem’s opening line employs the literary technique of enjambment, as the phrase “Over the wintry” continues onto the next line. 

Line Two 

forest, winds howl in rage

The line begins with the word “forest,” which immediately establishes the setting and expands upon the wintry landscape introduced in the first line. The forest represents a natural and organic environment, further emphasizing the imagery of nature and the elements at play.

The phrase “winds howl in rage” employs personification, attributing human emotions and actions to the natural phenomenon of the wind. This personification adds a sense of liveliness and intensity to the line, suggesting that the wind is not merely blowing but howling, evoking a sense of anger or frustration. 

By using the word “rage,” the poet imbues the wind with a fierce and wild quality, amplifying the emotional impact of its presence.

This line also employs auditory imagery through the use of the word “howl.” This choice of verb appeals to the reader’s sense of hearing, conjuring the sound of the wind as it gusts through the forest. 

The howling wind serves as a powerful image, emphasizing the strength and force of the wintry elements.

Line Three 

with no leaves to blow.

This line serves as a continuation of the description of the wintry forest and builds upon the previous imagery of the howling winds. It draws attention to the absence of leaves, highlighting the barrenness and starkness of the landscape. The word “no” emphasizes the complete lack of foliage, underscoring the desolation and lifelessness of the winter scene.

The phrase “leaves to blow” employs both visual and tactile imagery. It suggests the typical movement of leaves being blown by the wind, which is a familiar sight in seasons other than winter. However, in the wintry context depicted in the poem, the absence of leaves intensifies the sense of stillness and emptiness.

Through the use of negative phrasing, the poet emphasizes what is missing or lacking in the wintry forest, creating a contrast to the usually vibrant and dynamic state of nature. This contrast enhances the sense of isolation and solitude that pervades the poem, further accentuating the harshness of the winter season.


What is the tone of ‘Over the wintry?’ 

The tone of ‘Over the wintry’ can be described as desolate, somber, and reflective. The poem’s language and imagery evoke a sense of coldness, isolation, and the harshness of the winter season.

What kind of poem is ‘Over the wintry?’

This is a short, imagistic haiku. It focuses on vividly capturing a specific moment and scene, utilizing minimalistic language and evocative imagery to create a sensory experience for the reader.

What is the theme of ‘Over the wintry?’

The theme revolves around the desolation and stillness of winter. It explores the barrenness of nature, the power of the elements, and the absence of life. It contemplates the harshness and beauty found in the wintry landscape and invites reflection on the transitory nature of seasons.

Who is Natsume Sōseki?

Natsume Sōseki was a prominent Japanese novelist of the Meiji era. He is considered one of Japan’s greatest literary figures, known for his introspective works that explore the complexities of human emotions and relationships.

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some related poems. For example: 

Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

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