forget the past and live in the present
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. In this case it is one of when he as a
child, watched a team of horses ploughing the stubble back into the
field, during a rainy day which got progressively stormier. In the
first two verses, the poet gives the reader a meaningful hint into
what the circumstances of his times were. This was most probably, the
hardships of a period of war. The few references Muir makes to an army
such as in cases where the horses “marched” and the word “conquering”
further strengthen this issue of war.
“Their hooves like pistons in an ancient mill”
This line brings up another issue which is plaguing the third world as
we know it. In the same verse he refers to a “childish hour” in which
he also compares the horses’ hooves to pistons in an ancient mill.
This refers to how child labour in factories was existent e...
... middle of paper ...
...hose 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 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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