‘Snow Vision’ is a beautiful short poem that uses natural images, such as that of a tree, the snow, the wind, and the sun, to craft a fleeting scene.
This scene, which is described in brief detail over eleven lines, occurred “Yesterday.” This plays into the idea that one must appreciate these moments when they come, taking nothing for granted as the same confluence of events may never come together again.
Explore Snow Vision
The poet describes the tree as it looked “yesterday” when the dawn arose. This suggests, right from the beginning, that perhaps things are different now than they were then. Either way, she notes how the wind moved through the tree’s “hair” and the dawn illuminated the snow on its leaves. The flakes shined, as if diamonds, reflecting the light of the sun. All the other natural elements, the wind, and sun are struck by the beauty of the tree at that moment. Its beauty, unlike theirs, is more fleeting. It will not look exactly this way again. In fact, it could disappear at any moment.
You can read the full poem here.
In ‘Snow Vision,’ Rita Reed engages with themes of nature and beauty. The two are tied together in Reed’s depiction of a tree emerging from the dawn. The sight, which freezes everything around it, is “Lovely” and striking. It is possible to dig deeper into the text, reading the depictions as a broader metaphor for human beauty and love. But through her natural images, she creates a vision of the natural world that one must pause to enjoy, as the sun and wind do. It’s a sublime moment, one that may not ever occur again.
Structure and Form
‘Snow Vision’ by Rita Reed is an eleven-line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The lines are written in free verse, meaning that they do not conform to a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. But, if one looks closely, there is something of a pattern in the first eight lines. Lines one and two, as well as five and six, all contain three syllables while lines three and four, seven and eight, all have six. This changes with the final three lines where the first line is seven syllables long, the second is five, and the third is six.
Literary Devices in Snow Vision
Despite the fact that this poem is in free verse, Reed makes use of several literary devices in ‘Snow Vision.’ These include but are not limited to enjambment, alliteration, and imagery. The latter is the most important device used in the piece, it can be seen when the poet crafts images meant to engage a reader’s senses. For example, lines seven and eight read: “softly capped in ermine, / star-kissed with diamonds.” The final lines of the poem are also good examples.
Enjambment is a formal device, one that occurs when the poet cuts off a line before the end of a sentence or phrase. For example, the transitions between lines two and three as well as three and four. In both these instances, readers have to go down to the next line in order to find out how the previous ended.
Alliteration is a type of repetition concerned with the use and reuse of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “wild winds of winter” in line three and “sun, stricken sun” in line ten.
your black and twining hair.
In the first lines of ‘Snow Vision,’ the speaker begins by addressing a “Lovely tree.” This is an example of a technique known as an apostrophe. It occurs when a poet’s speaker addresses someone or something that cannot hear or reply to them. In this case, she speaks to the personified tree, reminding it, or informing it, of how “Yesterday” the winds combed through its “black and twining hair.”
The language in these lines flows perfectly from word to word and line to line. Through Reed’s use of enjambment, the speaker’s language comes across as one sentence, lingering between lines. The alliteration in the third line also helps the flow of the poem.
She describes the tree as one might a woman, focusing on the way the wind moved its hair. This is a perfect example of imagery that’s only expanded in the next lines.
When dawn blinked
star-kissed with diamonds.
Reed’s use of personification continues into the next lines when she describes the dawn waking up, blinking its eye into existence. From that light, which slowly emerged past the horizon, the tree was revealed. It “emerged” as though it had been hiding and is now ready, once more, to show off its beauty. She describes it as “softly capped in ermine,” an allusion to the now white color of the leaves, and “star-kissed with diamonds.” The latter phrase suggests that the tree’s leaves were covered in flakes of snow, reflecting the light of the sun. The way it reflects light is beautiful to behold. There is also a juxtaposition created between the light of dawn, which usually brings the heat with it, and the snow on the leaves of the tree.
Wind’s sharp breath caught in his throat
can’t turn his eye from you.
In the final three lines of ‘Snow Vision,’ the poet continues to use personification to describe the “Wind.” She notes its “sharp breath” that appears “caught in his throat.” As it starts to blow, it halts, as if its breath is caught in its throat. Something similar happens to the sun who “can’t turn his eye from” the tree. The tree is a marvel to behold, something that all the other elements, which are marvelous themselves, are stunned by.
Readers who enjoyed Rita Reed’s ‘Snow Vision’ should also consider reading:
- ‘Snowdrop’ by Ted Hughes – uses juxtaposition to describe the uncertainty one faces at the end of life.
- ‘Dust of Snow’ by Robert Frost – tells the simple story of a snowfall that pulls a narrator out of the unpleasant mood that he’s been in
- ‘The Buck in the Snow’ by Edna St. Vincent Millay – describes the power of death to overcome all boundaries and inflict loss on even the most peaceful of times.