‘Wind On The Hill’ by A. A. Milne is a five stanza poem that is separated into sets of four lines or quatrains. The text follows a structured rhyme scheme of abab cdcd, and so on, alternating end sounds as the poet saw fit. This type of rhyme scheme is perfectly suited for a poem aimed at children. Its sing-song like sounds is lighthearted and easy to comprehend.
From the first lines, a reader already has a great deal of information about the setting of the poem and what type of narrative, or at least the tone of the narrative, to follow. A. A. Milne is best known as the writer of the Winne-the-Pooh books, this means that it is a safe bet to assume that this poem will follow in a similar lyrical style, aimed at children.
Setting and Audience
The title gives a reader two more important pieces of information that help to set the scene and allow one to predict what the focus of the poem will be. It is going to take place on “the Hill” and the speaker will be interested in the “Wind.” There is something about this particular place that is of interest to the speaker, or perhaps to Milne himself. It is not any hill, it is “The Hill,” a singular space.
The fact that this poem was at children does not mean that a child is the only kind of person who can enjoy it. One of its most attractive features is the way it allows any reader to imagine themselves in the place of a child playing with a kite and exploring the wind. It also has a deeper level of meaning, beyond an indulgent rhyme scheme and an adventure with a kite. You can read the full poem Wind On The Hill here.
Summary of Wind On The Hill
The poem begins with the speaker wondering over the origin and destination of the wind. He is chasing his kite along a hill, trying to keep a hold of the string. The boy looks into the future and imagines the kite being ripped from his hands. It would fly for a night and a day and then eventually he would find it. When this happened it would imbue him with an answer to the question of where the wind is going. He states that he’d be able to relay this answer to the others, although he still wouldn’t know where the wind comes from.
Analysis of Wind On The Hill
No one can tell me,
Where the wind goes.
In the first stanza of this piece, the speaker begins by making a number of statements that are lighthearted. He states, in perfect rhyming verse, that there is “No one” who can tell him,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.
Clearly this is a false statement as there are any number of people who could answer, scientifically, those two questions. That is not the point of these lines though. When one considers the lyrical nature of the lines and the fact that A. A. Milne was best-known for his children’s literature, the lines take on a different meaning. They are attempting to tap into the wistful nature of a child’s thoughts. This particular child meditated on the wind, and found that there were no clear answers about what it is.
He is seeking out an answer but finds that a lack of an answer is more whimsical than something certain. As will be revealed in the following lines, there is a reason the child-like narrator is focusing on the wind.
It’s flying from somewhere
Not if I ran.
In the second set of lines, the speaker begins by transferring the reader’s attention from the wind and questions of its behavior to the thing that is “flying.” There is no clear answer to what this “thing” is in the second stanza. Although it is easy enough to guess. Either way, a reader will have to wait until the third stanza to know for sure it is a kite.
Just like the wind that travels from somewhere and to somewhere the kite is flying “from somewhere” and the child cannot keep up with it. His racing after this kite mirrors his questioning in the first stanza. He is seeking something that he seems unable to fully grasp.
In the next two lines, this comparison becomes even clearer. The speaker says that no matter what he did, even if he “ran” he could not “keep up with it.” His kite is constantly out of his reach, being push by forces he does not understand. A reader can approach this piece from the surface and read the poem as one that discusses a child’s free moments of play, or dig deeper. Under the surface is a desire for some kind of closure. The child seeks it through his questions about nature and his chasing of the kite he cannot catch. There is an amount of desperation in his actions which can be read as a larger metaphor for life and one’s continual quest for something always out of reach.
But if I stopped holding
For a day and a night.
It is revealed in the third stanza that the speaker has indeed been chasing a kite. But it is not as completely out of his reach as it seemed. He still has a hold of the “string.” It is the only thing connecting him to his toy. It is easy to imagine the string drawn taut as the kite races through the air. It is likely difficult to hold onto and the boy is having to exert a lot of effort to even keep his kite in sight.
In the third stanza, he describes how if he were to let go of his kite it would
[…] blow with the wind
For a day and a night.
This shows a depth of maturity in the speaker. He understands consequences and is willing to persevere to avoid them. The lines rhyme just as perfectly as do the other stanzas, a fact which helps to lighten the mood of the possible impending loss of the kite.
And then when I found it,
Had been going there too.
The fourth stanza takes the narrative into the future. He imagines that the worst has happened and his kite is taken by the wind. If this were to occur he sees himself the next day, seeking out his surely severely damaged toy. He maintains the hope that he would indeed find it “Wherever it blew.” Although his toy would’ve been taken from him, and all his running completed in vain, there is something good to be absorbed from the events of the day.
During the imaginary recovery of his kite it would be revealed to him where the wind is “going to.” His initial question posed in the first stanza would finally have an answer. It seems like the answer to this question would be worth the loss of his kite.
So then I could tell them
In the fifth stanza, the speaker imagines the next step of his fantasy. After he discovers where the wind is going, he’d be able to “tell them,” the adults without the answers. This would bring him satisfaction but he’d still be left with the question of “where the wind comes from.” The questioning goes on to be answered another day.