The poet one evening happens to see farm horses, those powerful shaggy animals working the plough and something jolts his memory and he recalls his earlier fear of these animals. As a child, Edwin Muir lived in the Orkney Islands where animals like Shetland ponies were used regularly as farm animals. As a child, the poet was overwhelmed by their powerful presence especially when seen through the gloaming light of a late afternoon. When the horses pulled the plough in the pouring rain, they seemed like some kind of monsters breathing fire (their steaming breath condensing in the cold air). Their heaving bodies with light bouncing off their sides were a powerful image that scared the child. Suddenly, the poet is aware that those days have gone by and now he filled with a longing to live those untouched pristine days once again. Main Subject
The main subject of the poem is the farm horses of the poet’s childhood. He was terrified of those huge powerful animals which was an indispensible part of farm life. The poet as a child was terrified of the creatures which seemed to breathe fire as their breaths condensed in the cold dank air of the evening. “And warm and glowing with mysterious fire
That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.”
But now as a mature that fear has gone but he is left longing for those days once again. Purpose
Edwin Muir spent his childhood in the remote Orkney Islands where ponies and horses like the shaggy Shetland were used to plough the farms. These large animals which looked like some primordial beasts filled the child with awe. Through the image of the horses the poet recalls the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Now when he is a grown man the image of those horses fills him with longing for those unspoilt days again. “And I must pine Again for that dread country crystalline,”
The poem deals with the reminiscences of childhood days that bring in a train of thoughts flooding into the mind....