Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, FOOTSTEPS, by FANNY HOWE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

FOOTSTEPS, by                 Poet's Biography

"Footsteps" is a poem by Fanny Howe first published in 1995 in her collection "Selected Poems." Howe is an American poet, novelist, and essayist who has published over 30 books throughout her career. She is known for her unique blend of politics, religion, and personal experience in her work.


"Footsteps" is a short poem that reflects on the experience of walking and the way it can connect us to the world around us. The poem begins with the speaker describing the feeling of walking in snow, with each step making a distinct crunching sound. As the speaker walks, they observe the various objects and sensations around them, including a blue mailbox, the smell of fire, and the distant sound of a train. The poem ends with the speaker reflecting on the idea that walking is a way of creating and leaving a trail, a physical record of our presence in the world.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: Free verse, no strict meter or rhyme scheme
  • Theme: The connection between walking and perception, the relationship between the self and the environment
  • Imagery: Snow, footsteps, blue mailbox, fire, train
  • Tone: Reflective, contemplative
  • Sound: Alliteration ("crunching crystals"), onomatopoeia ("crunch"), assonance ("footsteps begin")
  • Language: Plain and straightforward, with occasional poetic flourishes ("crunching crystals," "unfurling shadow")
  • Structure: A single, continuous stanza with no line breaks
  • Symbolism: The act of walking as a way of leaving a trail or record of our presence in the world
  • Emotion: A sense of wonder and awe at the world around us, a desire to connect with the environment


"Footsteps" is a simple yet evocative poem that explores the act of walking as a way of connecting with the world around us. The poem's language is plain and straightforward, but there is an underlying sense of wonder and contemplation that gives the poem its power. By the end of the poem, the reader is left with a sense of the physical and emotional connection between the self and the environment, and the importance of leaving a trail behind us as we walk through life.

Poem Snippet:

"crunching crystals,

the sound of footsteps begin

my trail in the snow"


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