The Horses by Edwin Muir The Poem that I am going to talk about in this essay is "The Horses"
by Edwin Muir. In this essay I am going to talk about the poems use of
language to convey a picture, the theme of the poem and how the poem
has affected me.
On the first few lines of the poem, the word choice is crucial, the
poet uses the phrase "Barely a twelvemonth after", the word
twelvemonth is an old word and this conveys one of the poems main
reoccurring images of time.
On the second line the poet talks about the seven-day war that put the
world to sleep, this is a Euphemism about a nuclear war that killed
everyone in just 7 days. The 7 days is a biblical reference, the irony
is that it took God 7 days to create the world and took man 7 days to
destroy it. The time aspect comes into it again to goes from year to
day onto the next line with a particular time of day.
This poem is about surviving a war.
When it talks about the strange horses either there is something
strange about the horses or the horses are strange, this has more than
one meaning, throughout the poem things have more than one meaning.
On line 4 it talks about making a covenant with silence, covenant
could mean either one of three things, it could either be an archaic
word, a legalistic word or a biblical word but the author uses all of
these 3 meanings to build up how quiet it was with all the people.
On line 5 the cyclical nature of time crops up again, in this poem it
goes from year to week to days, to a part of day.
One line 6 it talks about the people listened to their breathing and
were afraid, what makes this statement so effective because wherever
you go their will never be totally silent, but the best way to put the
silence across it to lead into the fact that they could listen to
their own breathing and the fact that you don't normally hear your
breathing, the author uses it in the fact that if you cant hear your
breathing then you will stop breathing and you will die. I believe
that this is an extremely good image to use and it paints the picture
of the fear that the people had during the war.
This makes me feel the image of war is more real, the seriousness of
war comes to life in this poem, that the people in wartime really do
On lines seven and eight it talks about that the radios failed, and
their was no answer, that means that everyone had been destroyed but
notice that the poet left out the horrific images of the bombs
dropping, the poet uses an euphemism, he doesn't say that the bombs
have dropped but his use of language puts that forward.