Afternoon on a Hill

Afternoon on a Hill

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

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
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

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

Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Afternoon on a Hill has been a favorite poem of mine since I first discovered it as a child in a Childcraft Encyclopedia.  For me, the words evoke vivid images that suggest a day spent mindfully, fully appreciating the beauty of nature in a quiet, solitary way.  I get a sense of the poet’s awareness of her connection with her natural environment, and her consciousness of its details, as evidenced by the line “I will touch a hundred flowers”.  She interacts with her world, even if only as a discreet observer.  As well, I enjoy the poet’s acknowledgement of her need to return to her everyday activities.  The joy of spending an afternoon on a hill is that it is a chance to get away for a moment from the stresses and busy-ness of daily life.  It is this contrast (between daily life and the time spent enjoying a peaceful afternoon) that allows us to appreciate an Afternoon on a Hill all the more.

Finally, I think Afternoon on a Hill could be a wonderful prompt for a guided meditation. With its imagery and attention to detail, and its final verses to bring one back from meditation, Afternoon on a Hill offers a pleasant getaway from a busy day spent indoors.

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