The Great Poem Series: Billy Collins’ “Snow Day”
The poem “Snow Day” by Billy Collins appears in the 2001 volume of The Best American Poetry and was published by Random House in New York. This poem describes the wonderful feeling of waking up on a snow day and realizing that school is cancelled and you get to play outside: an experience that most have had before. When I came across this poem, reading it felt different than it had for the rest of the poems. I have come to the conclusion that this is because although all the poems in the book are good, this one is great.
This poem is full of creativity and imagery, which is very important when writing a great poem. Both of these things are necessary components in order to make the reader feel like they are experiencing that specific moment right there with the author. Collins uses the five senses throughout the poem to relate to the reader and to tap into their emotions. Collins writes “under the noiseless drift,” reminding the reader of stepping outside the morning after a big storm and hearing nothing but the wind, everything seeming so peaceful covered in a blanket of snow. Thinking back on snow days often makes people feel nostalgic and they can remember the smells and sounds they heard at a certain time. Tapping into these senses can help the author connect to his readers and help the readers connect to the poem on a personal level. Provoking emotion in readers is a very important aspect in a great poem because it needs to be more than just entertaining. By talking about an experience that everyone has had, it opens up the poem to be interpreted in different ways. Although “Snow Day” talks about a situation that has appeared in most people’s lives, everyone experiences things in a different way. Everyone thinks of a different moment when thinking of snow days in their childhood, but the common experience can spark different memories throughout the readers.
This poem focuses on a positive aspect of childhood, likely appealing to all readers and not just those who are experienced in the world of poetry. A snow day is positive because as a kid, everyone loved missing school to go play with their friends in the snow until they were too cold to bear it. This is what people will think of while reading a poem like this, so it attracts a wider audience. It remind the reader of a happier time, which is an important aspect of a great poem.
This image demonstrates the tranquility and the silence that is described in the very beginning of the poem. Snow days are so calm in the morning, everything looking uniform and perfect, untouched and such a beautiful white color. Collins calls it “a revolution of snow,” and I believe that this picture represents just that, with the snow taking over everything in sight.
The strong language in this poem is what makes the imagery so vivid and makes the reader feel like they were there. When Collins writes “but for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,” it is a situation that we are all familiar with, waiting in the warmth of your house in the morning before going out into the snow. This reference to a “willing prisoner” is an oxymoron, referencing a prisoner who wants to be trapped and is not fighting it. This Collins also uses strong and creative language when he writes “and the dog will porpoise through the drifts.” With this line, Collins demonstrates a picture of his dog running through the snow as a porpoise would in the water. He uses porpoise as a verb, giving it the power to transform the dog in the minds of the readers. Because of the author being creative and using basic words in a whole new way, this poem has been able to outshine others and become great.
In my experience, snow days have been some of the happiest times in my childhood. I remember waking up and looking out my window the see the streets and the houses blanketed with snow, realizing that there would be no school that day. I would run downstairs in my pajamas, and immediately put on my snow pants and coat, running out onto the road to see which of my neighbors were already sledding. I would spend the whole day outside, and when I finally got too cold to bare, I would run inside, get back in my pajamas, make some hot chocolate and settle in by the fire. When I read this poem, it reminds me of these wonderful times that I miss so much. I feel like I am still calling my friends to see if they wanted to go to the hill and sled or if they wanted to build a snowman. This poem makes me feel nostalgic for those times, and in my mind, that makes this a great poem
Overall, the main goal of this poem seems to be to remind the reader of a happier time. I think Billy Collins was successful in this goal, because it did that for me. It relates to a wide range of readers, making it bound to be well-liked, and the strong language, imagery, and emotions truly make it a great poem.