Poem: Horses by Edwin Muir

113

 

Horses

 

Edwin Muir

 

 

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.

 

Perhaps some childish hour has come again,

When I watched fearful, through the blackening rain,

Their hooves like pistons in an ancient mill

Move up and down, yet seem as standing still.

 

Their conquering hooves which trod the stubble down

Were ritual that turned the field to brown,

And their great hulks were seraphim of gold,

Or mute ecstatic monsters on the mould.

 

And oh the rapture, when, one furrow done,

They marched broad-breasted to the sinking sun!

The light flowed off their bossy sides in flakes;

The furrows rolled behind like struggling snakes.

 

But when at dusk with steaming nostrils home

They came, they seemed gigantic in the gloam,

And warm and glowing with mysterious fire

That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.

 

Their eyes as brilliant and as wide as night

Gleamed with a cruel apocalyptic light,

Their manes the leaping ire of the wind

Lifted with rage invisible and blind.

 

Ah, now it fades! It fades! and I must pine

Again for the dread country crystalline,

Where the blank field and the still-standing tree

Were bright and fearful presences to me.

 

 

 

Grange] farmhouse

Seraphim] angels

Mould] ground

Bossy] swelling

Gloam] dusk

Mire] mud

Crystalline] as if made of crystal

 

 

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