'Snow -Flakes' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Out of the bosom of the Air
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Snow-Flakes" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: A Winter Wonderland of Poetry

Are you ready to plunge into the world of snowflakes through the eyes of a poetic genius? If so, then fasten your seatbelt, because Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Snow-Flakes" will take you on an enchanting ride of imagery, symbolism, and emotion.

This classic poem, first published in 1863, captures the essence of winter's beauty and mystery through its delicate and intricate snowflakes. Longfellow, a celebrated American poet and educator, uses his lyrical language to convey the awe and wonder that snowflakes evoke in him and his readers.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the poem's themes, structure, language, and poetic devices to unravel its meaning and significance.


At its core, "Snow-Flakes" is a poem about the wonder and transience of nature. Longfellow marvels at the snowflakes' beauty and intricacy, but he also recognizes their fleeting nature. He compares snowflakes to human lives, which come and go in a blink of an eye:

"Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow."

The image of snowflakes falling silently and slowly from the sky evokes a sense of peacefulness and tranquility. However, the poem's tone changes as Longfellow reflects on the snowflakes' ultimate fate: they will melt and disappear, leaving no trace behind.

This fleetingness of nature is also reflected in the poem's structure, which consists of three stanzas that gradually decrease in length, from eight lines to six lines to four lines. This diminishing structure mirrors the snowflakes' gradual disappearance, as if they are melting away before our eyes.

Another theme that runs through the poem is the idea of interconnectedness. Longfellow sees the snowflakes as part of a larger natural system, where everything is connected and interdependent. He writes:

"All that falls from the sky,
Snowflakes and rain-drops,
Gushes and springs from the fountain
From the invisible source!"

This vision of nature as a connected and harmonious whole is a recurring motif in Longfellow's poetry, and it reflects his belief in the unity of all things.

Language and Poetic Devices

Longfellow's language in "Snow-Flakes" is rich and evocative, filled with sensory imagery that transports the reader to a winter wonderland. He uses alliteration, assonance, and other sound patterns to create a musicality that enhances the poem's beauty and rhythm.

For example, in the opening lines of the poem, Longfellow uses alliteration and assonance to describe the snowflakes' descent:

"Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow."

The repetition of the "o" and "s" sounds creates a gentle, soothing effect that mimics the snowflakes' descent.

Longfellow also uses imagery to create a vivid picture of the snowflakes. He describes them as "feathered crystals" and "flowers that blossom in the snow." These images convey the delicate and intricate nature of the snowflakes, as well as their beauty.

Another poetic device that Longfellow uses in "Snow-Flakes" is personification. He imbues the snowflakes with human-like qualities, such as "flirting, darting to and fro," and "whispering, murmuring sounds." This personification adds a sense of whimsy to the poem and reinforces the idea of interconnectedness between nature and humans.


"Snow-Flakes" is a poem that celebrates the beauty and transience of nature while also reflecting on the interconnectedness of all things. Longfellow's lyrical language and poetic devices create a vivid and enchanting picture of the snowflakes, which he sees as both delicate and powerful.

At the same time, the poem acknowledges the snowflakes' fleeting nature, reminding us of the impermanence of life. Longfellow's vision of nature as a connected and harmonious whole is a powerful message that resonates with readers of all ages and backgrounds.

In conclusion, "Snow-Flakes" is a timeless masterpiece that captures the magic and mystery of winter through the beauty and transience of snowflakes. Longfellow's poetic vision of interconnectedness and harmony speaks to our deepest human longings and reminds us of the beauty and power of the natural world. So, let us revel in the wonder of snowflakes and the poetry that celebrates them!

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Snow-Flakes: A Masterpiece by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century, is known for his lyrical and romantic poems that have captured the hearts of readers for generations. Among his many works, one poem that stands out is "Snow-Flakes," a beautiful and evocative piece that captures the essence of winter and the magic of snowflakes.

In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve into the poem's themes, structure, and literary devices to understand why it has become a classic in American literature.

The poem begins with a simple and straightforward description of snowflakes falling from the sky. Longfellow writes, "Out of the bosom of the Air, / Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, / Over the woodlands brown and bare, / Over the harvest-fields forsaken."

The opening lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with vivid imagery and sensory details that transport the reader to a winter wonderland. Longfellow's use of personification, where he describes the Air as having a bosom and garments, adds a touch of whimsy and magic to the poem.

As the poem progresses, Longfellow describes the snowflakes in greater detail, highlighting their delicate and intricate nature. He writes, "Silent, and soft, and slow / Descends the snow."

The use of alliteration in this line, with the repetition of the "s" sound, creates a sense of serenity and calmness, which is fitting for a winter scene. Longfellow's choice of words, such as "silent," "soft," and "slow," further emphasizes the gentle and peaceful nature of snowfall.

Longfellow then goes on to describe the different shapes and patterns of the snowflakes, comparing them to "flowers that in the darkness lie." This simile not only highlights the beauty of the snowflakes but also creates a sense of mystery and wonder, as if the snowflakes are secrets waiting to be discovered.

The poem's structure is also worth noting. "Snow-Flakes" is written in quatrains, with each stanza consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, with the first and third lines rhyming with each other, and the second and fourth lines rhyming with each other.

This structure gives the poem a sense of rhythm and flow, making it easy to read and follow. The use of rhyme also adds to the poem's musicality, making it a pleasure to recite and listen to.

However, Longfellow's use of enjambment, where a sentence or phrase continues onto the next line without a pause, adds a sense of unpredictability and surprise to the poem. For example, in the second stanza, Longfellow writes, "Not as a child shall we again behold them, / Not as the eye beholds / The distant stars to thee reveal'd, / In all their glory, on high."

The sudden shift in the sentence's structure, with the phrase "Not as the eye beholds" continuing onto the next line, creates a sense of anticipation and excitement, as if the reader is waiting for something to be revealed.

The poem's themes are also worth exploring. "Snow-Flakes" can be seen as a celebration of winter and the beauty of nature. Longfellow's descriptions of the snowflakes and the winter landscape are filled with wonder and awe, as if he is marveling at the world around him.

However, the poem can also be interpreted as a reflection on the fleeting nature of beauty and the passage of time. Longfellow writes, "Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, / That host with their banners at sunset were seen, / Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, / That host on the morrow lay wither'd and strown."

This comparison between snowflakes and leaves highlights the transience of beauty and the inevitability of change. The snowflakes, like the leaves, are beautiful but fleeting, and will eventually disappear.

In conclusion, "Snow-Flakes" is a masterpiece of American literature that captures the essence of winter and the magic of snowflakes. Longfellow's use of vivid imagery, sensory details, and literary devices creates a sense of wonder and awe that has captivated readers for generations.

The poem's structure and themes also add to its beauty and depth, making it a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today. Whether read aloud or silently, "Snow-Flakes" is a poem that is sure to inspire and delight all who encounter it.

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