-Look up info of the writer.
-Create a Glossary.
-Look up for a criticism or analysis of the poem. (Video or web page)
-Add your own view, analysis, opinion, etc.
-Look for literary terms.
Background info of the writer
Edwin Muir was born on May 15 th on 1887 on Scotland and died in 1956
in England. He was a poet, novelist and translator. He was a passionate
lover of animals as he was born in an ordinary farm, full of different
animals with his family.
In this poem the narrator looks back on his childhood and
wonders why the horses on his farm used to cause a feeling
of awe and fear on him as a boy. In the final stanza, the
man returns to his adult life and laments that the horses can
no longer be the ones with the tremendous power they had
over his imagination. Now he is a mature adult so, the magic
power of his young imagination has gone forever.
In this poem, Edwin writes about horses, and specifically, those powerful carthorses, the working horses on
the fields. This is a poem of horses, yes, but this is also a poem about memory; about childhood and the
power childhood has to make ordinary things seem extraordinary; about the strength, might, power and force
that nature and animals have that seem so pulsating profound to us, humans; and how in our maturity, such
excitement (even if it is founded upon terror and fear, as Muir’s experience is) is to be appreciated as
possessing some kind of intensity of feeling, an intensity of living, that is much more profound and exciting
and real compared to how we see life from an older perspective.
The horse, so simple and overlooked, is remembered from the point of view of the child, and stanzas 1 and 7
bookend and frame what is essentially a memory flashback in 2-6. In it, Muir writes with an awed reverence
at the strength of the horses, what they look like, what they create in their work, how they interact with the
world around them, and what impact that have on him. The images are multiple and powerful, and it’s
fantastic to track them down and mine into them, appreciating how Muir is trying to communicate to us this
sense of strength and power that he sees in the horse. He sees them as they work and he sees them as they
rest, and even in this state of calmness, they are equally potent, if not more so. The feelings he has when
describing them flicker from childlike terror to a reverence and worship that seems almost religiously
enraptured to an awed sense of unknowability – and while I’m sorry that that word is not quite a feeling, it is
the best thing I can come up with that tries to address the nameless sense of awe and wonder that seize Muir
as he considers the horse. These feelings, however nameless and unclear, are energizing, invigorating and
ultimately rejuvenating – and when he finally realizes that these are feelings that have been long gone, that
are to be found no longer in reality but only in dreams and memory, you can feel the sense the
disappointment in his tone as he bewails the ability he had but has since lost – to see things of everyday
occurrence and to see beyond them, to see them as something amazing, awe-inspiring and powerful.
Lumbering: the business of trade or cutting, transporting, preparing, and pulling timber.
Steady: firmly fixed, supported, or balanced; not shaking or moving.
Plough: land to cultivate
Bare field: without covering or clothing
Stony: full of stones or rock.
Hooves: the horny covering of the end of the foot in the horse, deer, and all other ungulate mammals
Pistons: It is an internal-combustion engine it is forced to move by the expanding gases in the cylinder head.
Conquering: Powerful, strong, etc
Tread: to set down the foot in walking
Stubble: The short stalks left in a field after crops have been harvested
Field:a piece of open or cleared land
Hulk: the body
Seraphims: a member of the highest order of angels; which represents fire.
Rapture: a feeling of intense pleasure or joy.
Furrow: a groove made in the ground
Broad-Breasted: like an army
Flow: the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream.
Bossy: an abnormal enlargement of a part of the body, typically as a result of an accumulation of fluid
Flake: a small thin piece or layer chipped off or detached from an object or substance; scale
Struggling: make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.
Dusk = Gloam: the darker stage of twilight
Steaming: to give off or produce steam
Nostril: either of the two external openings of the nose
Smouldering: to burn slowly without flame, usually emitting smoke
Gleam: to shine brightly, especially with reflected light.
Manes: a growth of long hair on the neck of a horse
Leaping ire: to jump with anger.
Lift: to go up; rise
Fades: to lose or cause to lose brightness, colour, or clarity
Dread: great fear or apprehension.
Pine: to wish for or want deeply
Analysis stanza 1
● The horses are carrying straw through the empty land
● As the speaker looks back, he wonders why he perceived
the horses as terrible and strange when he was a child
● As they worked, the horses seemed to have magical
powers over the land.
“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”
Analysis stanza 2
● The speaker feels as though he is back as a child
observing the horses.
● The boy was fearful by the horses when he watched them
● “Through the blackening rain” bringing up tension
● Using a simile to describe the systematic movements of
the horse’s feet, the poet compares them to the pistons in
an engine moving up and down like the one in the
machines of factories.
● “Move up and down, yet seem as a standing still”
although the horses are moving, they look still
Analysis stanza 3
● The horses appear to conquer the earth as they plow
● The boy feels fury but also joy when he sees the horses
and he compares them to angels of gold but also to
Analysis stanza 4
● When one row is completed, the horses march together
like soldiers in an army
● The plowed rows looked as if they were wriggling snakes
( (snakes moving)
Analysis stanza 5
● At the end of the day, the horses look as though they
are huge in the weakening light. Their bodies exude
water vapor because of the heat generated from their
hard work. The poet uses the word smouldering (to burn
slowly without flame, usually emitting smoke) to
describe the water vapor rising from their bodies.
● The narrator afraid of these mighty horses
● This stanza, shows how exhausted were the horses as
a result of their hard work and how much the narrator
was afraid of them.
Analysis stanza 6
● The horses’ eyes are shiny and wide
● The boy saw the light which shines on the horses cruel.
● Their manes are blowing with the fury of the wind which
Analysis stanza 7
● The memory starts to disappear
● The voice wishes to be near horses again as when he
was a child
● The speaker wishes to keep to the memory but he
● The magic power of his young imagination has gone
The poem is a childhood memory, a flashback of the narrator, where he remembers when he was a
child and he saw his father’s horses in the field. This poem is of horses, but also of
memory and the nature of imagination. Edwin makes the difference between how he saw the horses in
his childhood and how he sees them now because throughout his life the way he saw the horses has
changed. This poem, shows how the narrator with maturity, have lost the big imagination he had and
sees the horses from a totally different way.