Summary / Review / Appreciation

Sunrise on the Hills by H W Longfellow is a lyrical poem highlighting the therapeutic effect of nature on human mind.  This beautiful short poem describes the sights, sounds and movements perceived by the poet during a sunrise witnessed from a hilltop.  The poem is divided into three stanzas of varying lengths.

The first stanza focuses primarily on the sights as seen by the poet from the mountains.  In the morning the horizon is brightened and a  soft wind kisses the valley bathed in sunlight.  Looking from above the poet sees clouds gathered midway around the hill, but they gradually dissolve as the sun moves up in the sky.  The stranded clouds look like wounded soldiers of a defeated army lying about in the battlefield.

The pointed  pinnacles rising above the mist look like the shattered lances in the hands of the soldiers.  The battle imagery is further carried on with the description of the bare, blasted and cleft pines on the hillside.  When the veil of the cloud is lifted, a rich valley is visible with its cascading streams and a blue lake having silver beaches.

The poet listens to many sounds as well.  The sound of noisy bittern, the sound of distant waters, the music of the village bell, the hoot of the wild horn and the echoes of all these sounds are some of them.  The movement of the waters dashing in cascades, the whirls, the movement of the bitterns flying up in spirals,  the slow rising of smoke through the thick leaved branches are some kinesthetic images that captivate the poet.

The overwhelming sensory perceptions of the poet throws him into inexplicable joy.  He arrives at a useful conclusion.  In the final stanza which is the shortest among the three, he says that if you are troubled by sorrows and worries in life and want to forget them, or if you want to learn a lesson that will strengthen your heart and soul, you just need to go to the woods and hills.  Nature is capable of wiping away your tears.