Tue. Nov 30th, 2021

There is no denying the fact that Robert Bridges was a classicist. He discarded modern trends and modernization of poetry in favor of an easier-to-get, well-understood technique that is perceptible in the exquisite London Snow poem. at the sight of a prolonged fall of snow incessantly floating town to cover the City and The poem addresses four of the five human senses: vision, hearing, taste and touch, and employs a moderate use of metaphor. The reader is introduced to muffling common noises. The ear unusually ‘hears’ stillness, an oxymoron. Schoolchildren stick out their tongues to catch snowflakes, metaphorically described as manna (meaning food from heaven), and make snowballs, freezing their tongues and hands. The snow lying on the ground is a “white moss wonder”

• The poem is accessible as a single stanza of thirty-seven lines. The effect produced by this shape is that of an endless autonomous chain of events, continued by snowfalls that persist all the way through the hours of darkness.

• There are three final stops in the poem: on lines 9, 24 and 30 (plus the final stop on line 37). Stops indicate a brief pause in narration.

• By camping through the points where some poets might have chosen to create stanza cuts, Bridges has created a flow through the poem, reflecting the incessant and prolonged blizzard.

• The length of the verses varies from eleven syllables to seventeen syllables and the meter is irregular, creating a poem with a rhythm that resembles the rhythm of speech.

The poetic imagery in Robert Bridges’ London Snow is used to defamiliarize the familiar or to acquaint the reader with unusual phenomena. In London Snow, Bridges de-familiarizes the streets of London (“the brown city” has turned white) with keen observation of the action and transformative effect of snowfall. It acquaints the reader with the phenomenon of snow, which is rare enough in southern England to cause a shiver of wonder and excitement (“The eye marveled, marveled at the dazzling whiteness”).

at the sight of a prolonged fall of snow incessantly floating town to cover the City and The poem addresses four of the five human senses: vision, hearing, taste and touch, and employs a moderate use of metaphor. The reader is introduced to muffling common noises. The ear unusually ‘hears’ stillness, an oxymoron. Schoolchildren stick out their tongues to catch snowflakes, metaphorically described as manna (meaning food from heaven), and make snowballs, freezing their tongues and hands. The snow lying on the ground is a “white moss wonder”

Alliteration in London Snow by Robert Bridges

There is a lot of alliteration in London Snow. Alliteration is the repeated use of a letter or syllable, usually, not always, at the beginning of a word. For example, hissing consonants, this slows down the rhythm: asleep, snowy, stealthily, settling, silently sifting. Wheezing in poetry is a stylistic device in which consonants, used in rapid succession, emphasize words.

A stylistic device in ‘London Snow’

• Most adverbs end with the letters ly.

• Adverbs tell us more about the action described in a verb.

• Bridges has used adverbs extensively in ‘London Snow’. They tell us how an action was carried out, in this case the way the snow arrived. Look at lines 1-9 and choose the adverbs.

Use of the verb -ing in ‘London Snow’

• A verb ending in ing is a present participle when used with a verb of motion. It describes how an action was performed. For example, on line 1 the snow flew off. (Came is the past tense of the verb to come and volar is the present participle of the verb to fly).

• Bridges has used the present participle extensively, as a poetic device for repetition, in lines 1-9 to describe how the snow came. for example, settling, silencing, damping.

Suffice it to say that ‘The British Poet Laureate’ is an honorary role, today awarded by the reigning monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister after proper consultation. There are no specific responsibilities, but there is an expectation that a practicing poet laureate will write poems to mark important national occasions. If you enjoyed reading London Snow and would like to read more poems by Robert Bridges, a former poet laureate, I highly recommend this collection of his works. In fact, the originality of the award dates back to 1616, when the reigning monarch, King James I, provided a pension to Ben Johnson. Each poet laureate receives a modest annual honorarium. The tradition of also providing a barrel of sherry continues to this day.

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