Analysis of a poem- 'Horses' by Edwin Muir It is said that one should forget the past and live in the present
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Name : Raghav Goyal Grade : X B IGCSE Date : 13th November 2005 English Assignment Coursework Assignment 3 (2nd draft) Analysis of a poem- 'Horses' by Edwin Muir It is said that one should forget the past and live in the present. However, Edwin Muir's 'Horses' is a poem of past memories only. The interesting part is that it deals with many conflicts and issues which are prevalent even today. It is thus a bridge between the past and present and is expressed in the form of a piece of literature. Muir himself said that in writing about horses in this poem, he was reflecting his childhood view of his father's plough horses, which must have seemed huge, powerful and mysterious to a boy of four or five. Some of his poems, including 'Horses', have a close equivalent in passages from his autobiography, suggesting that seeing these horses reminded him of certain events. The poem begins with the poet transcending reality and reminiscing of one of his childhood memories.
Under the "great hulks" of these creatures he sees is however another truth. The way these symbols of "power" trod, allows the reader to infer another thought. Muir talks about the "ritual" of trodding hooves turning the field beneath to brown. This can relate to the nuclear tests taking place, the desire for power and how it would destroy the earth just as the horses' trodding was literally destroying the earth underneath. The line, "Gleamed with a cruel apocalyptic light," has an even greater significance when he talks as if an apocalyptic war has taken place and the world has come to an end. In Muir's time, this could obviously refer to the World War or perhaps a civil war and maybe future wars as well. The manner in which the poet expresses great anguish at the fact that this anger and blind hatred has left nothing in its wake, throws light on where the world is headed.
it fades!" At this point, Muir comes back to reality. We get a lucid glimpse of the depth of his feelings about much of what happened should never have and his regret. He wants those memories back when he says "I must pine..." hoping, in my perspective, to change the past. Muir now seems to be in a state of possible turmoil and confusion. At one point, he refers to these memories as "dreadful and fearful" while in the same verse he calls them "bright." Ultimately however, it seems that the past has been greater than the present; at least it still has an overwhelming effect on the poet's mind. It is said "When you are thrown from the horse, the best thing you can do is to get back on as soon as possible". Returning to the 'scene of crime' can help resolve issues and this is exactly what Muir is doing through the course of the poem. The closing paragraph of the poem is very powerful in how it expresses his mixed feelings towards the Horses. Through these animals, he has given light to different issues that disturbed him as a child.
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