Spring Morning by A. A. Milne

Spring Morning by A. A. Milne was published in 1924. It was featured in a poetry book called When We Were Very Young, illustrated by E. H. Shepard. Several of the verses of these poems were set to music by Harold Fraser-Simson. When We Were Very Young is very well known for introducing the characters of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh. The collection opens with Just Before We Begin, which suggests the figure of Christopher Robin, and, later in the book, Teddy Bear is the first appearance of Winnie-the-Pooh in A. A. Milne’s works. This poetry book contains 45 poems and it is a best-selling book.

Spring Morning is the 16th poem of When We Were Very Young. The poem creates an uncertain and nostalgic tone by asking the same question several times (“Where am I going?). Although responding to child-like questions, the lyrical voice reflects on different aspects of life. The form of the poem and the rhyme scheme are really simple. Spring Morning has six stanzas with different variations of simple forms of rhyme: the first stanza is all rhymed, from the second to the fifth stanza there is an AABB rhyme, and the final stanza is all rhymed, as the first one. Thus, Spring Morning has a constant and rhythmical pace that emphasizes the meaning of the questions and answers made in each stanza. You can read the poem in full here.

 

Spring Morning Analysis

First Stanza

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.

(…)

Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

This first stanza opens the poem with a decisive question that is going to be recurrent throughout all the text. “Where am I going?” asks the lyrical voice. From the start, the response to this question is uncertain (“I don’t quite know”). This first line sets up the tone for the rest of the poem, providing a thoughtful and a questioning tone. Then, the next two lines depict natural images that relate the lyrical voice’s questions to elements of the landscape. These images, however, are very subtle and give a soothing response to the first answer that the lyrical voice gave. The second line talks about going down a stream (“Down to the stream”), whereas the third one mentions going up the hill (“Up on the hill”); these lines present opposite directions in their images, but the lyrical voice resolves this contradiction in the following line. The final line concludes with a great uncertainty, as the lyrical voice states he/she doesn’t know where he/she is going (“Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know”).

 

Second Stanza

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,

(…)

Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

This stanza repeats the question of the first one. Nevertheless, the first line provides a different response, more certain that that of the first stanza (“Where am I going? The clouds sail by”). The lyrical voice focuses on the image of the clouds, depicting some smaller sized ones all over the sky. Moreover, in the third line, the question of the first line is repeated. The answer focuses on shadows reflected in the grass. Both answers to the same question have the same sentence structure. This repetition in form, but not in content, provides an emphasis on the question that is being made, leaving the answers with less importance. Notice, again, how the lyrical voice uses natural images to answer to his/her question, the recurring problem throughout the poem (“Where am I going?).

 

Third Stanza

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,

(…)

“Doesn’t the sky look green today?”

This third stanza presents a new tone, as it differs from the previous ones. In the first line, the lyrical voice talks to a “you”, referring to the reader. Again, the image of the cloud is used, but the regular semantic relations that follow it are changed. The lyrical voice mentions a sail on water “as blue as the air” and, later, the sky as green colored (“Doesn’t the sky look green today?”). The shift between the natural spaces and their colors provide a lively tone to the stanza. Finally, the third line presents the possibility of an encounter between the lyrical voice and the “you”, which is referred (“And you’d see me here in the fields and say”).

 

Fourth Stanza

Where am I going? The high rooks call:

(…)

“We do have beautiful things to do.”

This stanza repeats the question of the first and second one. Once again, the question is asked and responded with natural images (“Where am I going? The high rooks call […] Where am I going? The ring-doves coo”). However, the answers are now in nature’s mouth, as it is personified in these verses.  The “high rooks” and the “ring-doves” respond to the question that the lyrical voice is asking to him/herself. Both provide positive answers towards life, focusing on the fun and beautiful things about being alive.

 

Fifth Stanza

If you were a bird, and lived on high,

(…)

“That’s where I wanted to go today!”

This fifth stanza replicates the form of the third stanza. The first line starts again with a possibility and an address to a “you” person (“If you were a bird, and lived on high”). Another hypothetical situation is presented, but the meaning is more straightforward than that of the third stanza. The lyrical voice pictures the “you” he addresses, the reader, as a bird; a bird that would follow the direction of the wind. The resolution to the question, as in the other stanzas, remains open.

 

Sixth Stanza

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.

(…)

Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

This final stanza repeats the main question of the poem (“Where am I going?”). The answer, however, is the same as in the first stanza (“I don’t quite know”). After this question, another interrogation is made, a more powerful interrogation that responds to the first question (“What does it matter where people go?”). Again, the lyrical voice talks about a natural scenery, and a natural image, to respond to the question (“Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow). The answers given throughout the entire poem seem to be linking the resolutions to natural spaces as the preferred and desired way of living. The final line is the same as the final line of the first stanza (“Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know”). These repetitions of the first and final line give the poem a circular form, which doesn’t provide a strict and truthful answer.

 

About the Poet

Alan Alexander Milne was an English writer and playwright. He was born in 1882 and died in 1956. A. A. Milne is well known for his Winnie-the-Pooh poems and stories. Before his great success with children’s books, he wrote eighteen plays and three novels that were overshadowed by his later work. A. A. Milne served in both World Wars for the British Army.

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