#28 “Snow” (Louis MacNeice)

Louis MacNeice’s “Snow” is not about love, or death, or animals, or children. Nor is about faith, nor is it about music or language itself. It’s about snow and roses, for sure; but it is also about how odd existence is when you think about it. In that way, it shares a theme with our other two Countdown entries for today, and with many other more elaborate poems we have read this semester.

The tiniest of unlikely contrasts leads to the poetic “moment” of this poem: how odd it is to be inside on a freezing day, with summer flowers just inches away from the snow.

But as great as the idea is in the poem, the execution of that idea enhances it greatly. The poem is in three four-line stanzas. The lines have an unprescribed number of syllables. Their true meter is “accentual””: that is, they seem to have about five strong “beats” or stresses to a line. How many stresses you hear depends on your choices when you read the lines aloud. But since only the stresses “count” in making up a line, the lines vary greatly, and beautifully, in rhythm. And they vary in syllable count from ten (the fourth line, if you read “world” as one syllable) to fifteen (the eleventh line). The poem is a riot of language, of “the drunkenness of things being various.”

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17 responses to “#28 “Snow” (Louis MacNeice)

  1. I thought this poem was fabulous. In the world we live in, much of what we do is out of sync as far as nature is concerned. Having fresh summer flowers in the middle of winter is one of those things. I’m sure we could all think of examples of this if we thought about it long enough. Pools on boats. What’s up with that? Palm trees in Washington state (it exists, I swear!). Why do these things exist? I think life is full of little things like this, but in our day and age we don’t think anything of it. Take a look at the greenhouse, for example. Before its invention, nature never would have allowed something like those pink roses in the snow. But leave it to man to not feel accomplished until he’s defying nature. So we have things like roses in winter, pineapples in Texas, and cilantro in Maine. I can grow bazil in my house. This just isn’t right. The beauty in this poem I think is more in the way that the poet makes the observation than in the observation itself. There is more than glass between the roses and the snow. They have everything between them.

  2. I found this poem interesting because I like how he turned a little observation into an amazing poem. I think its really interesting how a summer flower grows in the winter and how we get fruits “off-season”, indeed a lot of it has to do with man intervening nature but sometimes man has nothing to do with it which makes something even more amazing. Something I found interesting in his poem is reflecting two contrasting events, rose in spring, he used “fire flames” while its snowing outside and those same “fire flames” have a “bubbling sound”, which again is a contrast, why use “bubbling” to describe the sound of fire, I think it re-emphasizes contradiction. Take some time and observe the little things, you’ll be surprised to find how great they really are.

  3. I enjoyed this poem because it presented a juxtaposition of ideas. The rhythm of the poem has a uniqueness about it as well as the contrasting and randomness of ideas. For instance, the roses existing and growing strong and beautiful even through the winter is a rarity. It is evident that this is a moment that was so inspirational to the poet that they decided to write about it. However, although this moment was very special to the poet, it was the last line of the poem that really stood out to me. “There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.” In my opinion this is expresses that although this poem is about snow, the poet appreciates many other aspects of the world that life has to offer.

  4. Often while reading a poem I look for a deeper meaning than what the speaker is obvious in speaking about. With this particular poem the deeper meaning that came across to me was that we find beauty in the complicated things. This is true of both physically complicated and emotionally complicated things. Well, at least in my personal experience I can say so. For example, I have come across many forwarded e-mails in my inbox with pictures of “unlikely” animal friendships such as; a kitten and a crow, a primate and a pup, and even a predator and its prey. We are fascinated by these animal odd couples that defy the laws of nature. Also, we as humans also are attracted to complicated emotions. How many times have we heard the phrase: “Can’t live with him/her, but can’t live without him/her.” Often we grow tired of relationship when everything is ALWAYS smooth sailing. To make things a little stranger I have to add that humans also love the simple things in life. Just as much as complication can beautiful, simplicity is beautiful also. We really are complicated beings! To get back to the poem and the way it was written, I must say that I thoroughly appreciated the speaker’s use of verbs. When writing, I have a habit of over-using verbs. Louis MacNeice has used a variety of very distinct verbs in this poem which enhances the beauty of what is being written. I very much enjoyed this poem 🙂

  5. decarlocoleman

    One of the things I immediately noticed early in this poem is how it is obvious Louis MacNeice is challenging the way we typically view the physical world daily. When reading the poem I am encouraged to seek the beauty of the elements of our world rather than focusing on the simplified forms. In the line, “World is crazier and more of it than we think” is something that I have always felt. This is because there is so much information that is not shared it makes you wonder about what could be or what really is the truth. In the end, however, still not all of the senses can be employed. The more than glass is a preconceived notions and unwillingness to break the average everyday boundaries of the acceptable views of natural beauty.

  6. I like this poem because it expresses beauty and the world today. I believe the poem is speaking on how we have to find the little things that matter and the beauty within. I like how the author talks about how the flowers grown in the winter. That is a beauty we do not think about or look for in our everyday lives. Sometimes we need to stop and think about the small things that matter and the beauty deep within. There are so many things that happen daily that we look past or pay no attention to. This poem expresses just that, the beauty deep within and the small things that matter.

  7. Louis MacNeice’s poem “Snow” sort of reminds me of the poem “We Wear the Mask”. There are certain lines that give me the comparison. Such as “world is crazier and more of it than we think” and “there is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses”. In other words to me there is more to life than what we see. This is a beautiful poem that expresses the hustle and bustle of everyday living throughout the world. In spite of all the craziness that goes on in our life, beauty still surrounds us. It is a short poem but tells a lot.

  8. andreamcginley

    This poem is of true educational stature. It causes one to take a step back and think about the oddities of the world. It calls these juxtapositions to front row and questions the wonder, and it begins in the first stanza says, “spawning snow and pink roses against it”, it is something that we may not see very often. We associate the foliage of winter as dead and brown. But for there to be something so bright against the pale snow causes one to think about other things that do not match. Like the oasis in the middle of the Sahara desert. The Sahara is the largest desert on the planet and we think of it as full of sand with hardly any life, however there are a few spots of life within the vast abyss. I completely agree with CPLUMMER, this poem does fit along the theme of “We Wear the Mask”. The line the “World is crazier and more of it than we think incorrigibly plural”, gives the reasoning that there is more to the world than we can see on the surface. The analogy to the tangerine is a great example of this. A tangerine has a hard ‘mask’ but once the peel is off the inside is soft and juicy. The same goes with anything that we may come in contact with. We may perceive something as being horrible grotesque until we take off the mask or the front and see what is behind.

  9. This poem created a beautiful picture of a peaceful house on a quiet, snowy day. It seems to me that what the character in the poem was observing around him was more than just a bunch of characteristics of a peaceful setting. Simple things like eating a tangerine and enjoying a fire became almost exciting at an instance. When I read his poem I felt like the person in the house was simply bored. Once he found the time to stop and admire everything around him, he realizes that there is more to the world than what we pay attention to on day to day bases.

  10. Louis MacNeice points out the complexity of the world we live in with simple expressions. The description of the ambiance the speaker seems to be in makes me think of the warmth a person feels when he/she is inside on a cold snowy day. The idea that there are pink roses against the window while it is snowing on the other side might not only question the idea of existence, but also be an appreciation for those things that we have in our modern lives which we didn’t have before. Long ago in history, people weren’t fortunate enough to be inside a warm home on a cold snowy day and didn’t have luxuries such as roses in the middle of the winter period. It is ‘crazy’ and incredible how much the world has advanced, and I believe the speaker of the poem agrees with me by stating …”World is crazier and more of it than we think”. There is a certain distinction between snow and roses, they are ‘soundlessly collateral and incompatible’ because as we discussed in class, the two are side by side (snow on one side of window and roses on the other) but very incompatible because the two just don’t go together – roses don’t bloom in winter time! On the whole, I enjoyed the mood that the poem put me in. I got a sense of coziness from it and realized that in the very simple things we see everyday in our lives, there is so much essence and connection to the rest of the world that we normally don’t think about. Why are things the way that they are? That might be a question that we all ask ourselves at a point in our lives.

  11. I like the poem “Snow” because it describes two things that are incompatible, yet are found side by side. I realize that the poem is only talking about snow and roses but I can’t help but think about a relationship, whether it is a friendship, romance, or something to do with a family member. Plenty of times I have seen two people that seem to be incompatible but their relationship thrives off of that and their love is beautiful.
    The snow and the roses is something that is described that is unusual yet beautiful. It appeals to all of our senses. The world can present unusual things and we can just take it in and appreciate it. It’s a way to realize that we don’t control everything around us. MacNeice says that the “world is crazier and more of it than we think/Incorrigibly plural.” I feel that means the world will present to us things that we can’t correct, or maybe even things that don’t need correction. We can view the roses and the snow side by side as something that shouldn’t be possible or we can take it in as one of those happenings that the world is capable of.
    Also, throughout the poem MacNeice says “world” instead of THE world, and I feel like he uses “world” as if it were a name of a person. We would be able to insert our own name where the word “world” is. I like that MacNeice does that because I feel it personifies the world, and helps us see it as something that is capable of anything.

  12. I really liked this poem because of MacNeice showing the contrast of two worlds and how they interconnect. There are so many things in this world that have this same feature, in America, and especially here at this university where it is so ethnically diverse that people of many different cultures and beliefs interact. The words of the poem beautifully describe this, especially the phrase “the drunkenness of things being various”. To me it just means the complexity of the world, the contrasts are really quite overwhelming when you consider all of them, and when you consider how they all coexist together. When MacNeice says “world is crazier and more of it than we think, incorrigibly plural.” it makes me think of how can’t even fathom the amount of things in this world, all the people, animals and plants that exist around one another and rely on one another sometimes for survival. The line that really speaks to me though is the last one in the poem “there is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses”. While the subject matter I guess you could say is kind of lofty, this line really seems to bring it back down to earth, showing that not only the glass separates the snow and the rose, but the two separate worlds that they exist in keep them apart.

  13. I really enjoyed this poem. The Alliteration is great. The author did a great job of describing his point of view. Since the dawn of humanity, our goal has been to create a place where we are protected from the elements. So, we build houses. Next, we wanted things which weren’t indigenous to where we were located. I believe this poem is more about human’s ability and unquenchable desire to create a fake environment which suits us more, in the midst of a “world” “which is suddener than we fancy it”.

  14. I agree with Scuttles on this one. While reading the poem, I kept picturing a man sitting inside, drinking tea (or some sort of warm drink), and sitting by the fireplace, then suddenly turning to realize that this is not how nature had intended for his day to commence. It does not say whether going against nature is a good thing or a bad thing (you could argue either side, really), but that it simply is. The poem describes the beauty in having contradictory ideas actually exist together. For example, my favorite type of weather is when the sun is high in the sky and yet it is raining. There’s just something majestic about experiencing the near impossible. And what I like most about the poem is the fact that it brings the reader back to reality. I think we have become so used to sitting in the air conditioning when it’s hot out and talking to another person thousands of miles away by the push of a button that we often forget how amazing it really is. MacNeice reminds us that we are every day experiencing what was once thought impossible and gives the reader a sense of appreciation for that, if only for a moment.

  15. “Snow” is a short poem with a lot of meaning and its very interesting. The poem brings out to the speaker the issues that the world is facing but many times we don’t want to see. “World is crazier and more of it than we think…” shows how the world is changing. It talks about the fire and flames at the same time is snowing and that in my opinion shows a contrast of how the world use to be and how it was then, and it is still relevant today because presently the world is far more different than it used to be. The last line “There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.” To me symbolizes the big difference between this two. Not only is Louis trying to say that the difference of this two is that one of them is inside and the other outside, but I think that the overall difference between this two is time, meaning the how time changes and how the world is changing as time goes by. Between the snow and the roses seasons go by, things happen, time goes by and the world continues to change.

  16. This poem made me think of many things. The last line in this poem “There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.” brings to mind many metaphors. I tend to think of worlds of difference in the two objects and how irony is represented in this poem. I also find it weird that you can get things of summer nature in other seasons. Where do these come from how are they grown and taken care of? In a time of cold and gloomy it is so nice to have a bright warmth of a summer flower sitting on the table. In this poem the irony takes advantage of itself here when he is talking about eating the tangerine. Its ironic that you can sit in your living room staring at flowers and eating summer fruit while outside it is gloomy and snowing.

  17. I like “Snow” because of its ability to point out contradictory forces that exist around us if we stop to notice them. The opposing forces that we live in offset each other leaving us in a balanced state. The nice thing about this poem is that the incompatibility of the snow and roses are displayed right in front of you. To view and appreciate something like this is rare, but awesome if it happens. Often times we are so busy in our life that we don’t have time to stop and enjoy the natural beauty of things around us. The two things, snow and roses, to coexist is very odd to spot. The emulsion of yourself into your senses allows for a true enjoyment of life. The things that make us stop and for, if only a moment, take in our surroundings. Like a smell that takes you back to a pleasant childhood memory. The word usage used by Mr Macneice is interesting also he refers to the world as “Incorrigibly plural” . I also enjoy his outlook on the complexities of the world are positive and appreciated.

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