upon the sunny hill, To his fathers house below securely bound. Far off the silent, changing sound was still, With the black islands lying thick arouarate height, each vaguer hue, Where the massed islands rolled in mist away, And though all ran together in his view He knew that unseen straits beed what new shores were there. In thought he saw the still light on the sand, The shallow water clear in tranquil air, And walked through it in joy ship so slow would pass That in the black hills gloom it seemed to lie. The evening sound was smooth like sunken glass, And time seemed finished ere tslept round him where he lay, Moveless as they, more still as evening came, The grasses threw straight shadows far away, And from the house his m
His childhood in remote and unspoiled Orkney represented an idyllic Eden to Muir, while his familys move to the city corresponded in his mind to a deeply disturbing encounter with the "fallen" world. The emotional tensions of that dichotomy shaped much of his work and deeply influenced his life. His psychological distress led him to undergo Jungian analysis in London. A vision in which he witnessed the creation strengthened the Edenic myth in his mind, leading him to see his life and careeras the working‐out of an archetypal fable. In his Autobiography he wrote, "the life of every man is an endlessly repeated performance of the life of man...". He also expressed his feeling that our deedson earth constitute "a myth which we act almost without knowing it." Alienation, paradox, the existential dyads of good and evil, life and death, love and hate, and images of journeys, labyrinths, timeand places fill his work.His Scott and Scotland advanced the claim that Scotland can only create a national literature by writing in English, an opinion which placed him in direct opposition to the Lallans movement of Hugh MacDiarmid. He had little sympathy for Scottish nationalism. In 1965 a volume of his selected poetrywas edited and introduced by T. S. Eliot. Many of Edwin and Willa Muirs translations of German novels are still in print.The following quotation expresses the basic existential dilemma of Edwin Muirs life:"I was born before the Industrial Revolution, and am now about two hundred years old. But I have skipped a hundred and fifty of them. I was really born in 1737, and till I was fourteen no time‐accidents happened to me. Then in 1751 I set out from Orkney for Glasgow. When I arrived I found that it was not 1751, but 1901, and that a hundred and fifty years had been burned up in my two days journey. But I myself was still in 1751, and remained there for a long time. All my life since I havebeen trying to overhaul that invisible leeway. No wonder I am obsessed with Time." (Extract from Diary 1937‐39.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Muir
Responding to the poem Stanza 1 Long time he lay upon the sunny hill, To his fathers house below securely bound. Far off the silent, changing sound was still, With the black islands lying thick around. Important notes :
He saw each separate height, each vaguer hue, 5 Where the massedislands rolled in mist away, And though all ran together in his viewHe knew that unseen straits between them lay.
Often he wondered what new shores were there.In thought he saw the still light on the sand, 10 The shallow waterclear in tranquil air, And walked through it in joy from strand to strand.
Over the sound a ship so slow would pass That in the black hills gloom it seemed to lie. The evening sound was smooth like sunken glass, 15 And time seemed finished ere the ship passed by.SettingSound a body of water (more on this later)evening day ending?
Final note on stanza 4We had a hint that the menace was still far off in line 13the long vowels in so slow emphasise the ships inability to affect the boy at present. Even time seems to stand still as it passesas if it belongs to another time zone than his own. The ship passes him by... suggesting his growing awareness of the world of adulthood, but that it isnt his time yet.
Grey tiny rocks slept round him where he lay, Moveless as they, more still as evening came, The grasses threw straight shadows far away, And from his house his mother called his name. 20Setting:grey tiny rocks slept round him, grasses threw straight shadows, the landscape appears to provide further protectionthere is an atmosphere of peace personification: sleeping rocksMood:Serenethe threatening ship has passed byEvidence: rocks slept, movelessMentioning the childs father (line 2) and mother (line 20) gives the sense that they enclose the whole poem (frame), which is concerned with the child, embracing him, giving a sense of unity in the family, echoed by the unity and harmony of the landscape.In the final line of the poem, the repetition of his in his house, his mother... his name stresses that he really belongs to this place, with these people. Calling his name emphasises this.
The whole poemSo far weve looked at elements of Analysis. Before we go on to Evaluation, well look at your basic understanding of the poem.Check your Understanding: The situation: Child lies on a hillside near his home during a long afternoon, vi ewing the familiar landscape. imagines what the outside world will be like a ship passes in the bay, from that world evening comes, and his mother calls him in - opposing impressions: sunny/gloom, below/far off, saw/unseen Themes: childhoodmain theme, introduced in title and stanza 1 sense of unity with earth/landscape/Nature, introduced stanza 1 sense of belonging to a place and our past
Setting contd SettingGeneral feeling of harmony with the landscape, timelessness, e:ternity the structure of the poem emphasises the mixing of the moods, witsuggests the pureness from 714 firmly enclosed by the serenity of the h the menacing lines of the childs view, uncontaminated by experience, memory or association line 15 to the end. The very surreal first stanza and the section from passage (1012) is bang in the middle. So we have alternating peacSense of unity with landscape: e/menace/dream/menace/peace. BALANCE!he lay upon the hill at one with the earth beneath himin thought he saw...strand fills his serves to make the childs innoc The underlying mood of menace imagination with joygrey feelings of peace and security and more poignant. It cant touc ent tiny rocks... the rocks are tiny the sleeping, not threatening, buthsurrounding, protecting him , like siblings or a litter of puppies- him, but the future is out there waiting for him.image of security.moveless... he isthe one of is written by an adult looking back to his c reminds us that as poem the rocks hildhood, with the experience of adulthood and the world beyond theAttention to detail in the landscape suggests the fresh setting_the ch tiny, idyllic island of Wyre (remember this is a REAL view ofild, regarding his surroundings with the interest of childhood, as if seeing things for the first time.
Poetic FormRegular: fourline stanzassupports ideas of harmony between Nature and man, and the security of the state of childhoodiambic pentameter occasionally slowed down with two strong stresses at the start of the line, e.g. line 1: Long time...Rhyme pattern abab: note the variation view at end of line 17, echoed at start of line 18 he knewsupports sens of unity in family and landscape.