Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

A Dust of Snow, an Illustrated Singable Poem by Robert Frost

Posted on: November 27, 2012


DUST OF SNOW
Poem by Robert Frost
Tune and Chords by ELEG for SBWE

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

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dust-of-snow-sbwe-w-chords
DUST OF SNOW (w chords)
Poem by Robert Frost
Tune and Chords by ELEG for SBWE
To view or print this page, click here:
dust-of-snow-sbwe-w-chords

Sing along with Emily’s scratch vocal, here:

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dust-of-snow-sbwe-no-chords
DUST OF SNOW (no chords)
Poem by Robert Frost
Tune and Chords by ELEG for SBWE
To view or print this page, click here:
dust-of-snow-sbwe-no-chords

Sing along with Emily’s scratch vocal, here:

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Online artist’s illustration of “Dust of Snow”
http://louchelab.blogspot.com/2010/01/dust-of-snow-robert-frost.html

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Another online artists illustration and thoughts on “Dust of Snow”
http://etegamibydosankodebbie.blogspot.com/2011/01/dust-of-snow.html

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A couple fantastic recordings:

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Dust of Snow” beautifully sung by Mezzo-Soprano Jan DeGaetani

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I love this whole album, including Rosalind Rees singing of “Dust of Snow”

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Hear the musical setting by Elliott Carter, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5VISRWfZTA

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Dust of Snow appears in:

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Forget-Me-Nots Poems to Learn by Heart
Words and Tunes by Various Artists
Poems Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Michael Emberley

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Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies

Selected by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
Illustrated by James McMullan
(This anthology contains nearly 40 singable poems, songs and lullabies, including:  “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Cecil Frances Alexander,  “Not While I’m Around” by Stephen Sondheim, and “Nature Boy” by Eden Ahbez.  For an alphabetical index of the Singable Poems in this book, click the title to reach the posting of 12/25/2009)

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The Sing Books with Emily SINGABLE ADVENT CALENDAR:  Dust of Snow

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DUST OF SNOW (lyric sheet)
Poem by Robert Frost
Tune and Chords by ELEG for SBWE
To view or print this page, click here:
SBWE Advent Calendar Dust of Snow

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5/10/2016
Music’s ability to engage with verse, snaking into hearts and minds (and my little tune for DUST OF SNOW by Robert Frost)

I was poking through my Singable Bookshelves in search of illustrated songs to populate a particular list and ran, again, across A DUST OF SNOW by Robert Frost.

I made the lyric sheet for the poem, having found a musical setting by the composer Elliot Carter.  I’d learned about Elliot Carter when I was listening to NPR a couple years ago and news came that he had passed away.  The commentator gave Mr. Carter a reverent and loving tribute.  It came out that Mr. Carter had created musical settings of Robert Frost poems.  This is how I learned about his setting for Frost’s A DUST OF SNOW.  It is a beautiful setting, but I’m afraid it is not going to be engaging for children.

It feels like sacrilege to write this.  My thinking here is in no way meant as an insult to a great composer.  But children ARE children.

A DUST OF SNOW is an lively little poem.  A little snippet.  A moment that almost anyone can relate to.  You’re walking along, feeling funky about something, and BOING something amusing happens to snap you out of your funk.  It is written so simply and (as a blogger wrote) sing-song-y.  Something about the poem is just absolutely perfect to me.  Nothing is wasted.  It is bare bones, yet I can see the scene clearly in my head.  And crows are funny.  We have a storytelling of crows (I just love that “storytelling” is one of the group names for crows, since they are always talking to each other) that operate among the rooftops of ourselves and our neighbors.  They talk to each other all day.  They miss nothing, watching, observing, waiting for something to happen.  They also come right away if I throw the butt end of a loaf of bread onto our front step.  One of them comes and carts the whole thing away.

I guess this whole thing is working out my guilt for the presumption of coming up with something easier to sing.  The tune popped into my head after deciding that the other one was just too artsy for the little kids to understand.  I heeded this call and sang it into my digital recorder.  Then, went to keyboard to plot the notes (sans rhythmic notation, since that skill is above my pay grade) on some staff paper (printed from free PDF found online).  I did try to work out some guitar chords, but I’m not good enough for that either.  My short recording and the note plot are attached for my own reference.  Next will be to send to the amazing Paul Raiman, with a request to turn this meager melody into a little composition with melody, accompaniment, rhythm, and chords and all the other fancy stuff you usually find in a piece of music.

Makes me laugh to think of a funny story I enjoy with my friends, a real life situation that happened to me, that ends with the punch line, “You think you’re so fancy.”  Honestly, I don’t think I’m fancy.  This isn’t fancy at all.  Just wanted to sing this little poem to kids.

It IS amazing how a tune increases the accessibility of the words.  I don’t know why this is true, but it definitely is.  You recite a poem to the kids and it does not mean nearly as much to them as if you sing it.  This must be why people have been setting verse to music from the very beginning.  Music has the ability to snake around barriers and seep right into the mind and heart.

dust of snow (frost) melody eleg sbwe

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Emily sings the tune, here:

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Addendum, 11/16/2016

I finally wrote out some guitar chords to go with the tune above.

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dust-of-snow-sbwe-w-chords
DUST OF SNOW (w chords)
Poem by Robert Frost
Tune and Chords by ELEG for SBWE
To view or print this page, click here:
dust-of-snow-sbwe-w-chords

Sing along with Emily’s scratch vocal, here:

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Addendum, 11/29/2016

When I was taking a walk and saw the jubilee of leaves mounting and swirling in a vortex of cold autumn air, it cheered me out of a funk that had settled upon my psyche.

Two other connections presented themselves, too.  First, DUST OF SNOW by Robert Frost, for which I’ve also written a little tune, came to mind. Joying in the experience of a heavy moment made lighter by a delightful chance happening in nature.  I also think about that wonderful line (which has always caught my attention) from A VISIT FROM ST NICHOLAS, “As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, / When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.”

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Addendum, 1/18/2017
I recently wrote a poem about crows that hang out among a cluster of houses that includes my own:

A Storytelling of Crows (an impression while working in my attic office listening to crow converse on the roof above my head)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/a-storytelling-of-crows-an-impression-while-working-in-my-attic-office-listening-to-crow-converse-on-the-roof-above-my-head/

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Related Posts

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A JUBILEE OF LEAVES, A SINGABLE POEM BY ELEG FOR SBWE
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/a-jubilee-of-leaves/

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POETRY SINGABLE POETRY IN COMPILATIONS

An list of  singable poems from compilations of poetry for children
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/singable-poetry-a-list-of-poems-that-can-be-sung-from-illustrated-compilations-of-poetry-and-singable-picture-books/

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POETRY, SINGABLE POETRY IN INDIVIDUALLY ILLUSTRATED SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
A list of individually illustrated poems that have been set to music and can be sung
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/poems-individually-illustrated-spb/

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WINTER

Singable Picture Books for Winter
Some of these are sung at Christmastime, but this is a list of songs about Winter that you can sing all season long!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/singable-picture-books-for-winter/

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SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS AND SINGABLE POEMS OF ROBERT FROST

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SING BOOKS WITH EMILY SINGABLE ADVENT CALENDAR
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/the-sing-books-with-emily-singable-advent-calendar/

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CHRISTMAS

A Collection of Singable Picture Books that celebrate CHRISTMAS!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/singable-picture-books-for-christmas/

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SBWE Singable Advent Calendar: Dust of Snow
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/sbwe-singable-advent-calendar-dust-of-snow/

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A DUST OF SNOW, AN ILLUSTRATED SINGABLE POEM BY ROBERT FROST
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/a-dust-of-snow-an-illustrated-singable-poem-by-robert-frost-musical-setting-by-elliott-carter/

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