“Snow” by David Berman – Analysis and Poem

Synopsis

This poem follows two brothers who are outside in winter. The two brothers are walking through a field and see snow angels. The younger brother asks who made the snow angels. The older brother tells him that it was a troop of angels whom had been shot and dissolved. The younger brother continues to ask questions about who shot them and why. The older brother says a farmer shot them for trespassing. The narrator then finishes by saying the outdoors is like a room.

Analysis

The snow angels were actually where children whom had been shot and killed by a farmer for trespassing (or by accident?). The older brother told the younger brother that they were angels because he believed they were truly innocent (never mind the fact that they were probably quite young).

When it’s snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

This part of the poem is the most telling. Today he saw his neighbors but since the tragedy happened, the neighbors seem closer than usual (“Our voices hung close in the new acoustics”). The next line “A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.” would then refer to the previous world of innocence and how the tragedy has changed it. No one knows what else to talk about, so they just shovel alongside one another.

Keywords

  • Troop of angels – may refer to boy scouts or simply young children he believed as innocents.
  • Roof of the lake – top of the lake
  • Photograph of water – frozen water
  • Room – A safe place. A place of talking and joy.

Poem: “Snow” by David Berman

Walking through a field with my little brother Seth

I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.

He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.

Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.

Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.

I didn’t know where I was going with this.

They were on his property, I said.

When it’s snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

But why were they on his property, he asked.
—David Berman

Gary R. Hess

Gary was born and raised on a small farm in rural Kansas. Today, he is teaching various nationalities English in Southeast Asia.

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