The Horses Poem by Edwin Muir

The Horses

Rating: 3.9

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.

Friday, January 3, 2003
Topic(s) of this poem: horse
archie paget 08 December 2022

magic this gets more than i do. oh wait i get none: (

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Funny Little guy 13 December 2022

skill issue

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Dick Sniffer 06 December 2022

Ah, a lady approaches Gentleman, stand down Chivalry is dead, I should know, I killed it!

6 2 Reply
Dick Sniffer 06 December 2022

Who's that, dressed to the nines No clue, is that a disguise? With a classy suit and tie Who will look good at your funeral Spy! It's time to murder this track You'll find a knife in its back Got equipment? Watch me break it Saw me die, I probably faked it

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Fly. 05 December 2022

Chicken Little is a 1943 short film created by Walt Disney during World War II and directed by Clyde Geronimi. The short was based on the Europen folk tale 'Henny Penny', known in the United States as 'Chicken Little'. It is an anti-Nazi film showing the evils of mass hysteria.

2 2 Reply
Ralph Hentall 19 January 2021

This is what a nuclear war can achieve. So can Covid 19. Digest this poem well.

0 4 Reply
edwin muir 01 December 2022

covid doesn't exist its all fake, also vaccines give you autism

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marlen 26 March 2020

studied this poem when in school 60years ago seems relevant to the awful happenings of today

5 4 Reply
Dick Sniffer69 08 December 2022

Nobody cares.

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Christian 02 May 2020

I came back to this poem today to find again just how it said " Thereafter nothing" , but all of the words are right. Within the wider Corona destruction, my family has failed and I have lost my two boys of 7 and 2, and finally last Sunday all the talking with their mother was at an end.

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Edwin Muir

Edwin Muir

Orkney / Scotland
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