Treasure Island

Roger McGough

(November 9 - 1937 / Liverpool / England)

The Trouble with Snowmen


'The trouble with snowmen,'
Said my father one year
'They are no sooner made
than they just disappear.

I'll build you a snowman
And I'll build it to last
Add sand and cement
And then have it cast.

And so every winter,'
He went on to explain
'You shall have a snowman
Be it sunshine or rain.'

And that snowman still stands
Though my father is gone
Out there in the garden
Like an unmarked gravestone.

Staring up at the house
Gross and misshapen
As if waiting for something
Bad to happen.

For as the years pass
And I grow older
When summers seem short
And winters colder.

The snowmen I envy
As I watch children play
Are the ones that are made
And then fade away.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Brian Leslie (12/29/2009 3:05:00 PM)

    His troubled relationship with a remote and distant father are well dramatized here. He remains unable to separate the joys of childhood from the painful acceptance of broken promises but is acutely aware that the clock is ticking and the past cannot be re built. (Report) Reply

  • Helena Pearce (6/18/2008 5:44:00 AM)

    actually i think that this poem is more about constancy: Mcgough seems to be commenting that the snowman his father made is flawed because of its permanence, and beauty can be more appreciated when it is mortal or has a time limit (like the normal snowmen) . (Report) Reply

  • Yousef Al-Janabi (8/6/2007 8:14:00 PM)

    Is McGough saying that the influence of his father is deeply etched into his soul and he sometimes wishes it wasnt. is this about the lingering figure of his father in the backdropp of his life kinda thing. to tired to write anymore right now, but need to know the answer to this

    ysf (Report) Reply

  • Christina Molloy (4/22/2007 11:08:00 AM)

    what can i say?

    it is so lovely and child-like in a way - a real art - the language of the heart.
    poignant without sentimentality.

    lovely poet - lovely man (Report) Reply

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