17 pages 34 minutes read

Robert Frost

Dust of Snow

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1923

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Summary and Study Guide


Robert Frost, the author of “Dust of Snow,” first published the poem under the title “A Favour” in the monthly literary journal, The London Mercury (1920), before including it in his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, New Hampshire (1923). Frost is one of the most well-known 20th-century American poets. He’s the sole poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry, and he earned the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960. In 1961, Frost read a poem at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

Frost, whose family moved from San Francisco to Massachusetts after his father died, has become almost synonymous with poems about the rural northeast region of the United States. “Dust of Snow” highlights Frost’s link to nature, as the lyric focuses on a person interacting with a crow, a hemlock tree, and the wintery weather. The poem’s main message centers on the themes The Relationship Between Humans and Nature, Managing Negative Feelings, and The Healing Powers of Nature. “Dust of Snow” isn’t a minor Frost poem, but it’s not as well-known as some of the other poems in New Hampshire such as “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and “Fire and Ice.”

Poet Biography

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874. His mother, Belle Moodie, battled depression, and his father, Will Frost, was a journalist who struggled with alcoholism. After Will died at 34 due to alcoholism and tuberculosis, Belle moved Frost and his sister, Jeanie, to Massachusetts, where they lived with family members. Eventually, Frost enrolled at Dartmouth College and Harvard University, but he didn’t graduate from either institution. Setting aside college, Frost worked on his family’s New Hampshire farm and married his high-school romantic partner, Elinor Miriam White. The couple had six children.

Then, Frost inherited the New Hampshire farm, sold it, and moved his family to England, where he fastened himself to the early 20th-century literary scene. The Modernist and Imagist poet Ezra Pound championed his work, and while in England at the age of 40, Frost published his first collection of poems, North of Boston (1914). A year later, Frost moved his family back to the United States, where he bought another farm in New Hampshire. In 1923, he published his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, New Hampshire, which features “Dust of Snow.” By 1943, Frost’s work included three additional Pulitzer Prize-winning collections. A literary celebrity, Frost maintained a busy reading schedule, and he taught and lectured at colleges across the United States. In 1961, Frost read “The Gift Outright” at Kennedy’s inauguration. Two years later, Frost died of blood clots at 88 years old.

Poem text

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.

Frost, Robert. “Dust of Snow.” 1920. Poetry Foundation.


Robert Frost’s poem presents an intimate moment between his speaker and nature. The speaker is outside, near “a hemlock tree” (Line 4). The speaker is in a poor mood, but when a crow in the tree shakes some snow onto the speaker, the speaker experiences “[a] change of mood” (Line 6). Due to the snow, the crow, and the hemlock tree, the speaker decides they will have a less gloomy day.

blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text