“The Snow Fairy” by Claude McKay


Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol’n away.


And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you
Who came to me upon a winter’s night,
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.
My heart was like the weather when you came,
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;
But you, with joy and passion all aflame,
You danced and sang a lilting summer song.
I made room for you in my little bed,
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,
A downful pillow for your scented head,
And lay down with you resting in my arm.
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.

In The Snow Fairy, Claude McKay uses common diction with clear end-rhymes in order to create a flowing poem that parallels a winter storm to a late night lover. The first section of the poem uses jovial language that develops a fantastical winter wonderland that juxtaposes natures fragility with its beauty. The second section compares the fragile winter storm to a lover that comes in the night and leaves with the dawn developing the lonely motif of the poem.

Claude McKay was born Festus Claudius McKay in Sunny Ville, Clarendon Parish Jamaica on September 15, 1890. McKay began writing poetry at the age of ten. McKay’s mentor, Walter Jekyll whom he met in 1907, encouraged him to write dialect verse; he published two books of dialect verse called Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads. In 1912 McKay immigrated to the united states and went to school at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where he learned first hand about the racism that later proved as inspiration for his writing. After beginning his career as an editor in America, McKay later moved to England where he published his successful first novel Home to Harlem in 1928. Now he is known as a poet, novelist and journalist.


Poem Found On: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/claude_mckay/poems/1775.html

Biographical Information found on: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/mckay/life.htm