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Jim Hogg Male, 60, United Kingdom (1/29/2014 5:47:00 AM)

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Barely a twelvemonth after
The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
Late in the evening the strange horses came.
By then we had made our covenant with silence,
But in the first few days it was so still
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
Nothing. The radios dumb;
And still they stand in corners of our kitchens,
And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
All over the world. But now if they should speak,
If on a sudden they should speak again,
If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
We would not listen, we would not let it bring
That old bad world that swallowed its children quick
At one great gulp. We would not have it again.
Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.
The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
They look like dank sea-monsters couched and waiting.
We leave them where they are and let them rust:
'They'll molder away and be like other loam.'
We make our oxen drag our rusty plows,
Long laid aside. We have gone back
Far past our fathers' land.
And then, that evening
Late in the summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
We saw the heads
Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
We had sold our horses in our fathers' time
To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield.
Or illustrations in a book of knights.
We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited,
Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
By an old command to find our whereabouts
And that long-lost archaic companionship.
In the first moment we had never a thought
That they were creatures to be owned and used.
Among them were some half a dozen colts
Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads
But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.

Edwin Muir

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  • Rookie - 335 Points Jim Hogg (1/29/2014 11:15:00 AM) Post reply
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    Hi g. Yes, wouldn't it be a fine thing if we could get back to civilly sharing poetry and our views on it in this forum.... I don't think there's a traceable connection between them. Muir is a very common Scottish name. Edwin was born on Orkney in 1887 and your Muir was born about 50 years earlier in Dunbar - south east of Edinburgh. It's not beyond the realm of possibility though. And the non-materialistic outlook common to both was shared by many Scots until fairly recently. But we haven't yet completely lost the poetry or the values, though I'm not sure we have any poets at the moment of the stature of Muir, McLean, McCaig, Crichton Smith, or Brown - it's arguable nonetheless. Thanks for taking an interest.

  • Freshman - 2,059 Points Bull Hawking (1/29/2014 9:43:00 AM) Post reply

    What a wonderful and pleasant vision contained in this excellent poem, Jim. A great return to the intended use of forum. I could not help wondering if he was related to John Muir who became the father of national parks in USA. If you know of any such connection please let us know.


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