"The Horses" is a poem by Edwin Muir. It tells the story of a world ravaged by nuclear war, where the few survivors live hopelessly in a desolate reality. Their outlook is changed by the arrival of the horses, a relic of the past which lets them rediscover humanity's bond with nature.
"The Horses", as well as being a very beautiful and moving poem, has an important message to convey. The poet uses various methods to illustrate this.
Throughout the poem, there are many biblical references. The nuclear war is described as a "seven days war", which is an allusion to Genesis, the creation and destruction of the world in seven days. This idea is furthered by the use of the phrases "our fathers' land" and "our fathers' time". The word 'covenant' has connotations of the 'Arc of Covenant', the Israelites sacred vow to God. And later in the poem, the horses are described as appearing from their own 'Eden', another biblical reference. This illustrates the importance of the poem's subject matter, by introducing a parallel to the Bible. It bears a resemblance to when God flooded the world, to wipe out all sin and allow the few on Noah's Ark to rebuild a new, better world.
This poem also shows the totality of nuclear war. Although there are survivors, the amount of death and destruction is immense. It takes so little time to destroy the world, in a way a punishment for mankind's vanity and arrogance. Technology, for so long thought to be a development for the good of mankind, is the very thing responsible for the cataclysm of earth. Tractors, which replaced horses, "lie about our fields", useless and wasted. And it is the horses, a representative of nature, who save earth, and not technology. The failure of technology is very important in this poem. Not only do most of the world's population die, the use and respect for technology dies. The radios lie "dumb", a personification which resembles the "impenetrable sorrow" in which whole...
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