Richard Wilbur

(March 1, 1921)

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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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/9/2014 4:43:00 AM)

    Nature is wonderfully interwoven with the living organisms and make them pleasure through its beauty, kindness and all good things it have got from the grace of the unknown and it is always gracious itself to part with the living organisms in which a major part is shared by the human being. The tears in the poem narrated felt its very feeling of love and poet have done well in its creation with beautiful words. (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/9/2014 4:43:00 AM)

    Nature is wonderfully interwoven with the living organisms and make them pleasure through its beauty, kindness and all good things it have got from the grace of the unknown and it is always gracious itself to part with the living organisms in which a major part is shared by the human being. The tears in the poem narrated felt its very feeling of love and poet have done well in its creation with beautiful words. (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (3/23/2014 2:54:00 PM)

    Richard, a little attention to the rhythm and rhyme scheme, drop two lines from the last verse and you would have the basis for a beautiful sonnet. The poem, as is, is full of heart. (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (3/12/2014 7:13:00 PM)

    Dare I say it! This melted me :) . I lived the two perspectives which express in my view how one looks on another assuming we know what they want or need and obviously that we all have different needs. but also it reminds me of my emotional stresses worrying what happened to our dear creations. Lovely (Report) Reply

  • Dean Bottomley (3/12/2014 6:13:00 PM)

    I love the sentiments and the story. Not sure about the format as the rhyme is all over the place. First and forth line and second and third line in verse one, then fifth and seventh and sixth and eighth. In second verse it is again first and fourth and then second and third, then fifth and seventh and sixth and fourth. A strange format? Then it maybe just me not willing to accept an unusual format (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (3/12/2014 8:52:00 AM)

    This poem is amazing in its expression of love and bond created between a fearful and crying child and Nature's silent compassion and consolation through snowman. Loved and touched by the poem very much. (Report) Reply

  • Roseann Shawiak (1/11/2014 4:22:00 AM)

    The simplicity of the young boy's innocence touches the heart,
    whereas the snowman knows the complexity of reality and
    yet still sheds a tear for the young boy's naivete. Very
    beautiful heart-touching poem. Love it. Thank you for
    sharing, RoseAnn (Report) Reply

  • Paul Pasquale (12/29/2013 1:25:00 PM)

    Now that I am cast out and alone, says the created one to t he Creator, I am beyond your care - and intervention, although apparently not your concern. It will do no good to return to you, since the warmth will change me. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Johnston (12/22/2013 3:49:00 AM)

    Hi Richard,
    This has long been one of my favorite poems. I think it is in the same class as Frost's Stopping by Woods.... I think the boy in the window is more than just a boy. At the very least he is the child in all of us but I feel he is more than that. He is the innocent peering into the darkness and making assumptions about others that may not be true. I think this poem is about Weltsmertz and how we would all be better off if we addressed the issues that we really have power over, namely our own lives. I was a student at Oklahoma University and heard you lecture there in the late 60's I think. I once did a redo of one or your poems called Love Brings Us To The Things Of This World. My poem is called For Love of ____. It would give me great pleasure to know that you like this poem or any of the others I've recently published on Poemhunter.com. My personal favorite of my own poems is Traveling Alone Through The Sand Hills Of Nebraska. Any advice would be much appreciated. I'm 70 and late to the game but my dream poetically is to be published in The Nation or in the New Yorker. I've only been on Poemhunter for a month or so and already a third of my poems have received a 10 rating. this has been so much fun. Thanks for all your loving effort... (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Patrick (3/12/2013 1:02:00 PM)

    A duality of life, the snowman lives for such a short time, but its life is fulfilled in its place as being a snowman, whereas the child will live grow up to be a man, and forced to take the bonds of adulthood, the snowman dissolves to become water recycled in the cycle of life, the child’s tears are water too, but they cannot join the snowman, or be recycled in the natural flow of life. The child will grow up grow old and die. But never return in the guise of snow (Report) Reply

  • Tsira Goge (11/24/2009 1:34:00 PM)

    When the fear leaves in the foreground, the boldness becomes more valuable... Sincere loneliness everywhere are the identical... The big poem and a theme so.. (Report) Reply

  • Tk Sung (12/18/2007 1:24:00 PM)

    It seems like a commentary on human condition: the boy surrounded by warmth and love, and full of feelings, must grow old and die. The snowman lacking all such human condition, on the other hand, is content. (Report) Reply

  • Shuqin Liu (4/14/2005 11:45:00 PM)

    It is talking about the different of views... The boy feels sad about the snowman because it's in the outside cold storm...And at the same time, the snowman feels sad for the boy, although he gets cozy and warm home, and gets everything he wants, he still feels lonely and fear... It's my view... (Report) Reply

Read all 14 comments »

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