“To a Snowflake” a poem by Francis Thompson

The term “snowflake” has become a negative in much political and popular speech, but here’s a poem in which a snowflake is used to worship the Creator.

“To a Snowflake” by Francis Thompson
What heart could have thought you?—
Past our devisal
(O filigree petal!)
Fashioned so purely,
Fragilely, surely,
From what Paradisal
Imagineless metal,
Too costly for cost?
Who hammered you, wrought you,
From argentine vapor?—
“God was my shaper.
Passing surmisal,
He hammered, He wrought me,
From curled silver vapor,
To lust of His mind—
Thou could’st not have thought me!
So purely, so palely,
Tinily, surely,
Mightily, frailly,
Insculped and embossed,
With His hammer of wind,
And His graver of frost.”


We can argue for God’s existence with apologetics, but another way is through poetry and images. After all, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Christian poetry helps us experience God‘s wonders more.

“To a Snowflake” by Francis Thompson is a 22 line poem (The number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, though I doubt this was intentional). It does not have a strict structure of the Elizabethan and Metaphysical poems we have posted so far. There seem to be 2 feet (stresses) per line with the number of unstressed beats varying. These short and varying lines fit with snowflakes falling. There are a number of rhymes at the end of lines, but no strict structure. This also fits with snowflakes falling. There is a fair amount of alliteration in and between lines. For example, look at the number of “f”and “p” sounds that are repeated in the first few lines. These plosive sounds gives a laughing feel to it. Towards the end the rhymes even take place within lines. This again gives the scattered feel of snowflakes falling, even more rapidly.

I think this poem is a good example of Alexander Pope’s admonition, “The sound must seem an echo of the sense.”

You can read other analyses here under Poems.