Boy at the Window Analysis

Richard Wilbur: Poetry Selection

Boy at the Window

Seeing the snowman standing all alone

In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.

The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare

A night of gnashings and enormous moan.

His tearful sight can hardly reach to where

The pale-faced figure with bitumen  eyes

Returns him such a god-forsaken stare

As outcast Adam gave to Paradise

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,

Having no wish to go inside and die.

Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.

Though frozen water is his element,

He melts enough to drop from one soft eye

A trickle of the purest rain, a tear

For the child at the bright pane surrounded by

Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear .


Using the words “dusk” and “cold” gave a negative feel to the sentence as if the boy felt the snowman was in a very negative and dreadful situation.

The boy is pained to see the snowman sitting in the cold all alone while he is able to be sheltered.

“gnashings and enormous moan” shows that the night is going to bring on very loud, horrible noises, terrible weather that the snowman will have to handle the entire night. Gnashing means grinding your teeth in a painful way so the boy believes the snowman will be in pain/agony.

“Bitumen eyes” are dark, coal-like. it describes a dark mixture that is tar-like.

Returns him such a god-forsaken stare

As outcast Adam gave toParadise.

Religious reference.  Adam yearned for paradise after being tempted by evil and banished/taken away from his opportunity to live a perfect life inEden? this is much like how both the snowman and the boy feel the other is missing an opportunity to be happy, when realistically both are where they belong and where they were born to be.

“The man of snow is, nonetheless, content” shows that boy yearns for the snowman to be where he is, yet the snowman is made to be outside in the cold. Otherwise he would die.  Both feel for each other and seem to lack the understanding that if they were in each other’s places, they would be unable to survive.

He melts enough to drop from one soft eye

A trickle of the purest rain, a tear

This sentence represents how the snowman feels pity for the boy and becomes emotional at the sight of the boy’s pity for him, even though where he is where he is supposed to be. He fears for the boy’s life.

“Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear” shows that what may seem comforting to humans (love, warmth, light) is not to the snowman and he is scared for the boy’s life much like the boy fears for the snowman’s life.  The snowman notices the boy is being sheltered, kept from the world which is not all that scary tot eh snowman because outside in the real world is where he spends all of his time. The boy, however, only knows that he is safe inside and sees the snowman outside in the cold, whish is the boy’s mind means the snowman is not in a safe environment. Both the snowman and the boy only know the ways of their own lives and therefore, cannot understand the lives of each other. However, they steel feel for one another and wish the other safety and stability.

This poem inspired me because it really points out how difficult it is to understand others if you do not know or or not familiar with their lifestyle. The little boy does not understand how the snowman feels and does not understand that he is actually happy because he has never lived the life of a snowman. Similarly, the snowman feels bad that the boy is in the warm shelter because he can;t ecplore the world but that is because he cannot understand that the boy is happy as he is.

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