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The Horses

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Addison Roberts

on 26 September 2014

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Transcript of The Horses

About the poet
(Specifically the end of WWII, and the beginning of the Cold War)
Stanza 4
Stanza 2
Perhaps some childish hour has come,
When I watched fearful, though the blackening rain,
Their hooves like pistons in an ancient mill
Move up and down, yet seem as standing still.
Discussion Question:
What effect does the diction 'broad-breasted' and 'bossy sides' have on the representation of the horses?
And oh the rapture, when, one furrow done,
They marched broad-breasted to the sinking sun!
The light flowed off their bossy sides in flakes;
The furrows rolled behind like struggling snakes.
Stanza 5
But when at dusk with steaming nostrils home
They came, they seemed gigantic in the gloam,
And warm and glowing with mysterious fire
That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.
Stanza 3
Their conquering hooves which trod the stubble down
Were ritual that turned the field to brown,
And their great hulks were seraphim of gold,
Or mute ecstatic monsters on the mould.
The Horses~
~Edwin Muir

Stanza 1
Stanza 6
Their eyes as brilliant and as wide as night
Gleamed with a cruel apocalyptic light,
Their manes the leaping ire of the wind
Lifted with rage invisible and blind.
Stanza 7
Discussion Question:
How does the punctuation and the repetition of "fades" change the tone in this stanza?
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.
Ah, now it fades! It fades! And I must pine
Again for the dread country crystalline,
Where the blank field and the still-standing tree
Were bright and fearful presence to me.
Discussion Questions
Discussion Question
What does the diction of the word "ritual" suggest? What about "monsters"?
How does the depiction of a horse running demonstrate the idea of war?
Born on the Orkney Island of Scotland.

Grew up on his father's farm.

Would move to Glasgow in his adolescence.

Wrote differently to the mainstream Modernist
style, using dark themes with a more traditional

The Second World War would help him develop his form of poetry, along with an extended hospital stay.

Discussion Question:
How does the poet change the tone of the poem by stating "I wonder, why, just now,"?
Discussion Question:
Discussion Question:
What are the horses being compared to in the memory that the speaker is recounting from his childhood?

How does the speaker's use of diction show the intensity of War?
Discussion Question:
Poet recounts his childhood memories of war and industrialization.
He uses horses as a method to express these emotions by describing them as menacing machines that overtake land.
He concludes the poem by ending the war he has described (WW2) and shows his solitude after the war.
How does the poet specify the time period in which the poem takes place? Could it be a different time period?

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