Muir's exploration of the themes of disorder and displacement in poetry
Muir's poetry often deals with ideas of displacement and disorder caused by man. Discuss Muir's treatment of these themes in 3 or 4 of his poems.
Across his poetry a variety of Edwin Muir's work deals with the themes of displacement and disorder. This can be seen clearly in his war poetry, such as; The Wayside Station, The River, and The Refugees, from his 1943 collection The Narrow Place. These poems largely focus on the destruction of families and communities, and the areas and homes of these people. Through the use of literary techniques and overarching themes throughout these poems Muir eloquently reflects the ideas of destruction and disorder and their effects on Man.
The first poem to be looked at, The Wayside Station, has the most subtle undertones of war, with war being much more prominent in the rest of the poetry listed. There is a sombre, oppressive tone to this poem, with the speaker lamenting about the repetitive nature of life. This is made evident in the description of a farmer, as he wakes up to go about his day:
“The ploughboy stirs in the loft, the farmer groans and feels the day like a familiar ache
Deep in his body...”
This small section tells us many things, such as the farmer's displeasure at greeting the new day, usually seen as a positive sign of new life and beginnings, its image is reversed here to one of a bringer of pain and displeasure. The “familiar ache deep in his body” shows us that the pain of starting a new day is one that he has grown accustomed to, and one he has learned to accept. Further on into the poem Muir describes the effects the daylight bring on two lovers, as they must part, leaving the idyllic land of dreams for the ground of reality:
“Great and mysterious as deep hills of snow
An inaccessible land. The woods stand waiting
While the bright snare slips coil by coil around it
Dark silver on every branch...”
The world of dreams and night is described as