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  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 02-05-14 19:49


Writer: Edwin Muir-He lived on a farm and moved to Glasgow which he came to regard as a descent from Eden into hell. He was a critic and translator as well as a poet,

Summary: This poem is about a horse lover who at the sight of horses now, in the present, leads the speaker to consider his feelings towards horses when he was a childrecalls his childhood and his experiences through the industrial revolution. He is a horse lover for their majesty, strength and other-worldliness feeling.

Form: There is a perfect 'ABAB' rhyming scheme throughout showing the perfection that the writer feels for the horses and it shows the horses movements are smooth and steady. However, there is an exception which is the lost rhyme found in the the second to last stanza of 'wind' and 'blind' which demonstrates that the writer feels that in the end, we get lost in time as these words used to rhyme in Shakesperean times. Furthermore, there are seven stanzas each with four lines to show the methodical trotting of the horses and how regualar the horses movements are, suggesting how capable and reliable they are.

Tone: He thinks they are creatures closest to God, they are omniscient in their own way, awe at their majestic and powerful nature, horses should be respected more than humans, worshipped,

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Language and Imagery

Langauge and Imagery:

  • 'On the bare fields- I wonder why' -There is constant caesura in the poem to illustrate the poet's attempt to try and recall the past which is why there are more towards the beginning,
  • 'They seemed terrible, so wild and strange,'There is also a triple which refers to when he was a boy while observing the animals to remind him how terrified he was.
  • Like magic power on the stony grange.'-Simile to compare the animal to a mystical power which he felt they possessed. He remembers observing them and fearing their power. It makes his past seems surreal and his pasr is biased to shift things in a more positive mood. It makes the horses look like creautres not of this world and even more perfect,
  •  'Hooves like pistons in an ancient mill' -Simile which refers to the immense power of the animals and how he remembers as a child observing their hooves that today remind him of pistons, the machinery used in mills. It gives us an insight into the industrial revolution,
  • 'were ritual that turned the field to brown.'- This is a biblical image of horses as it refers to a 'ritual' suggesting that what the horse does is sacred. It portrays the horses as Gods or creatures that are perfect.
  • 'great hulks were seraphim of gold'-metaphor to suggets he thought they were monstrous bodies of animals that appeared to him as angels of gold which indiactes his awe and respect that he has and had for the animals
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  • 'Move up and down, yet seems as standing still' -juxtaposition to make the horse seem immortal and they are linked with divinity as they are referred to as creatures that will be in the past, present and future,
  • 'broad-breasted to the sinking sun'-alliteration used when describing things and portrays how the author vividly remembers certain periods of his life. The sun setting is a powerful image used to represent the sun setting and the night coming which is mysterious like horses.
  • 'Their eyes as brilliant and as wide as night/ Gleamed with cruel apocalyptic light'-Simile to help the reader imagine what the writer has described which allows the reader to empathise with the poet and see the way he sees the world metaphotically. It shows the horses are a blatant sign of his admiration and illustrate the poets faith in horses,
  • 'Their manes leaping ire of the wind'-Personification which makes the horses look unearthly and more perfect then our current world as it talks of the horses mane as if it had a life of its own adn lifted itself with blind fury. This image generate fear and awe when he was a little boy,
  • 'It fades! It fades!' -Repitition to exaggerate how much the poet is distressed over the fact the can't recall his memories of his past once it leaves him,
  • 'dread country crystalline'-Alliteration-Crystals that are transparent but reflective and portrays how the author vividly remembers certain periods of his life but only in small sections. He refers to these memories as fragile glass that seems real one moment but could disintergrate the next,
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The exclamation marks on 'It fades!' is enjambment to demonstrate how much the poet wished to continue replaying his memories despite him being unable to do so, thus the word 'fades',

  • 'Where the black field and still-standing tree/ Were bright and fearful presences for me.'-Besides the horse, he remembers the open fields and lone tree. he remembers his childhoos and realises that he misses the very things that he used to fear.

Shifts: Medieval Times-In first few stanzas there is references to magic and bare fields and their 'steady plough' which only occured in medieval times, -> Industrial Period: 'Blackening rain' and reference to soot and air pollution -> End of the world-'Rapture' and 'cruel apocalyptic night'

Links: The Pike-Both poets share an equal respect for their animal and they describe the animal in their own special way, sometimes similarly as both are described with strength but sometimes differently so they also contrast.

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