Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 ~'Afternoon on a Hill~'
  • 0:48 Structure
  • 1:16 Visualize the Poem
  • 2:06 Analysis
  • 2:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michelle Acker

Michelle has a degree in English and a Master's in Education from Temple University. She has taught special education, 4th grade, and high school Communication Arts.

The poem ''Afternoon on a Hill,'' by Edna St. Vincent Millay, may be short, but it is full of imagery and interest. Even if you aren't an expert at reading poetry, this is one poem that you can understand and enjoy!

''Afternoon on a Hill''

''Afternoon on a Hill,'' by Edna St. Vincent Millay, is a short, sweet poem that's simple to analyze and connect with - even if you aren't a poetry master. What makes it short and sweet is that the vocabulary isn't difficult, the rhyme scheme is simple, and there are only 12 lines in the whole thing! In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at ''Afternoon on a Hill'' together and test our poetry skills!

Take a minute and read the poem yourself. (Tip: Poetry is best read aloud!)

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!


See, it's short and sweet! The whole poem is wrapped up neatly in just three short stanzas, or groups of lines. Each stanza has four lines, containing one or two sentences - twelve lines altogether. Not too bad, right?!

After the first read through, the rhyme scheme should jump out at you - ABCB. In other words, the rhyming words follow a specific pattern: in each stanza the second and fourth line rhyme - 'sun' and 'one'; 'eyes' and 'rise'; 'town' and 'down'.

Visualize the Poem

Although it's short, this poem is jam-packed with colorful imagery. In just twelve lines, St. Vincent Millay creates a whole scene for you to imagine! Read the poem a second time, this time a little slower, and do your best to visualize, or imagine, everything it says. When you visualize, you draw a picture of the words in your mind. Keep adding to the image with every line.

Let's try a couple lines together. Start with the title - Afternoon on a Hill - what image comes to your head? You're on a hill in the middle of the day, right?!

Now, build on your image with the first line:

''I will be the gladdest thing, Under the sun!''

Imagine a big sun overhead and you're smiling.

Keep building.

''I will touch a hundred flowers, And not pick one.''

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