AP/IB English, period 1
30 August 2010
Word Count: 534
“The Buck in the Snow” by Edna St. Vincent Millay Over a short twelve lines, the speaker in “The Buck in the Snow” mourns then philosophizes over the realism of death, which represents sin, vice, pain, and everything imperfect in the world. The imagery and diction chosen by Edna St. Vincent Millay suggest a sorrowful mood that matches the mournful prayer of the speaker in the first stanza: White sky, saw you not the buck and his doe? However they contrast the pensive tone of the speaker throughout the third stanza. In the midst of the imagery of the buck and his doe, the reader may miss other words that hint at the meaning of the poem. For example, Edna…show more content…
The speaker had begun by asking the white sky: did you not see this? The speaker had wondered why no higher power had intervened to stop the sudden tragedy that was echoed by imagery of the buck dying in slow motion. The speaker’s nearly instant recovery to reason, “how strange,” “how strange,” is actually his moral death. Like the deer, he accepted the idea of bad things in the world and ate the fruit of reason. That acceptance further enforces the author’s point that everything and everyone is imperfect, the speaker of the poem included.
Finally, the poem ends with Nature reflecting on the occurrences. The hemlocks “Shift their loads a little letting fall a feather of snow,” (line 11) as if to shed a tear for the loss of purity. Life, personified, “looks out attentive from the eyes of the doe” in the final line, implying a hunger to escape and suggesting the world naturally tends to be good, but has been spoiled, just as Eden was spoiled.
The Buck in the Snow Edna St. Vincent Millay
White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow,
Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe
Standing in the apple orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go,
Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow,
Over the stone wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow.
Now lies he here, his wild blood scalding the snow.
How strange a thing is