Spring Poem for you from Edna St. Vincent Millay

4th April, 2012 - Posted by Christine Perrin - No Comments

Afternoon on a Hill

I WILL be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds 5
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town, 10
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

Here is a spring poem to enjoy the flowers and clouds with. Part of the beauty of the speaker’s disposition is that she will not attempt to “possess” this beauty, she will marvel at it, dwell with it and then let it go. It isn’t hers to own or try to preserve, its loveliness is bound up with its fleeting span.

Notice, as well, that the meter alternates 8 syllables and 4 syllables (iambic tetrameter and iambic dimeter). What effect does this have on you as a reader? It feels like the idea the speaker is exploring in that she is sinking deep into the moment and then being willing to let it go–two motions that she incorporates into the meter.

When was the last time you spent a day outside soaking up the flowers, the clouds, the cliffs, the blowing grass with “quiet eyes,” which seems to suggest a “treasuring up in your heart” response. So much of what we do has a direct use, an end that is pragmatic.

The speaker totally rejects our need to possess and quantify in order to enjoy and benefit from an experience.

Personally, I am also reminded of the times when I have watched the light change in a single spot, or view over a long period of time. It’s enchanting–the colors change, shapes seem different, and your understanding of the passage of time deepens in a physical way.

Try memorizing it as a family or at least read it to start a spring day together. Ask each other if this feeling is familiar. Don’t miss spring, it won’t come again for 12 months!

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