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Edwin Muir

(15 May 1887 – 3 January 1959 / Orkney / Scotland)

Quotations

  • ''Long time he lay upon the sunny hill,
    To his father's house below securely bound.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. Childhood (l. 1-2). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
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  • ''Those lumbering horses in the steady plough,
    On the bare field—I wonder why, just now,
    They seemed terrible, so wild and strange,
    Like magic power on the stony grange.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. Horses (l. 1-4). . . Oxford Anthology of English Literature, The, Vols. I-II. Frank Kermode and John Hollander, general eds. (1973) Oxford University Press (Also published as six paperback vols.: Medieval English Literature, J. B. Trapp, ed.; The Literature of Renaissance England, John Hollander and Frank Kermode, eds.; The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, Martin Price, ed.; Romantic Poetry and Prose, Harold Bloom and Lionel Trilling, eds.; Victorian Prose and Poetry, Lionel Trilling and Harold Bloom, eds.; Modern British Literature, Frank Kermode and John Hollander, eds.).
  • ''But famished field and blackened tree
    Bear flowers in Eden never known.
    Blossoms of grief and charity
    Bloom in these darkened fields alone.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. One Foot in Eden (l. 20-23). . . New Oxford Book of English Verse, The, 1250-1950. Helen Gardner, ed. (1972) Oxford University Press.
  • ''The world's great day is growing late,
    Yet strange these fields that we have planted
    So long with crops of love and hate.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. One Foot in Eden (l. 3-5). . . New Oxford Book of English Verse, The, 1250-1950. Helen Gardner, ed. (1972) Oxford University Press.
  • ''They do not live in the world,
    Are not in time and space.
    From birth to death hurled
    No word do they have, not one
    To plant a foot upon,
    Were never in any place.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. The Animals (l. 1-6). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''Last night I watched my brothers play,
    The gentle and the reckless one,
    In a field two yards away.
    For half a century they were gone
    Beyond the other side of care
    To be among the peaceful dead.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. The Brothers (l. 1-6). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''I have observed in foolish awe
    The dateless mid-days of the law
    And seen indifferent justice done
    By everyone on everyone.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. The Brothers (l. 29-32). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''Barely a twelvemonth after
    The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
    Late in the evening the strange horses came.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. The Horses (l. 1-3). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
    Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
    And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. The Horses (l. 21-23). . . Norton Anthology of Poetry, The. Alexander W. Allison and others, eds. (3d ed., 1983) W. W. Norton & Company.
  • ''The ancestral deed is thought and done,
    And in a million Edens fall
    A million Adams drowned in darkness,
    For small is great and great is small,
    And a blind seed all.''
    Edwin Muir (1887-1959), Scottish poet. The Road (l. 31-35). . . Chief Modern Poets of Britain and America. Gerald DeWitt Sanders, John Herbert Nelson, and M. L. Rosenthal, eds. (5th ed., 1970) Macmillan Publishing Company.

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Scotland's Winter

Now the ice lays its smooth claws on the sill,
The sun looks from the hill
Helmed in his winter casket,
And sweeps his arctic sword across the sky.
The water at the mill
Sounds more hoarse and dull.
The miller's daughter walking by
With frozen fingers soldered to her basket
Seems to be knocking

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