Line-by-line Analysis of ‘Horses’ by Edwin Muir

By | August 15, 2017

Horses by Edwin Muir

1) In this memory poem, the poet remembers his days as a little boy in his country home, observing the horses on the ranch. He remembers their steady movement that would displace the soil beneath their hooves.

2) He remembers the animals on the bare field and wonders why the memory haunts him in the present moment.

3) Muir remembers how terrified he was as a boy while observing the animals. He uses the rule-of-three to describe the animals as 'frightening wild and strange' to his little mind.

4) He uses a simile to compare the animals to a mystical power, which he felt they possessed. He remembers observing them and fearing their power.

5) The poet believes that he feels like a child again which is why this memory has returned, very strong and profound.

6) He goes back to his memory and recollects how he used to sit and watch the steeds through the heavy rain. One strong memory that remains with him is being filled with fear.

7) He remembers observing the movement of their hooves that today reminds him of pistons, the machinery used in mills. This where the poet once again refers to the immense power of the animals.

8) The poet remembers observing their rhythmic movement that was so quick and agile, appeared to him as if they were standing still.

9) He also remembers the impact of their hooves on the field. He uses the word 'conquering' to represent the strength of the animals and remembers how they used to crush the grass beneath their hooves.

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10) As a little boy the poet remembers how the movement of the horses on the field appeared to him as though it were some kind of ritual. He remembers the animals raking up the soil and turning the field to brown.

11) The poet describes the monstrous bodies of the animals that appeared to him as if they were angels of gold. This indicates the awe and respect he had and still has for the animals.

12) He goes onto metaphorically compare them to quiet, mysterious monsters; once again he discloses his respect and fear for the horses.

13) The Poet remembers his immense happiness and bliss as he observed the animals walking, creating furrows.

14) His memories include the sight of the horses walking towards to the sunset, looking proud and gallant. He uses exclamation to disclose his wonder.

15) He remembers observing the evening light shining off their muscular bodies.

16) As the animals walked away from him, the poet remembers observing the personified furrows they formed struggling to keep pace like snakes.

17) Another memory is that of the animals returning each evening, tired and exhausted; he uses the phrase ‘steaming nostrils’ to metaphorically compare them to machinery.

18)The poet remembers the horses looking large and gigantic against the background of the setting sun.

19) Along with the description of their large bodies, he uses the adjectives 'warm' and 'glowing' to bring in a sense of fondness when he thinks of the animals. He uses the word 'mysterious' to compliment his earlier remarks of the animals being 'magical and strange'.

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20) The poet describes the horses as beasts with strong burning bodies against the brown mud of the field.

21-22) The poet remembers observing their eyes that appeared to him as brilliant and wide as the night.

23) The poet talks of their mane as if it had a life of its own and lifted itself with a blind fury. This image generated fear and awe in him as little boy.

24) The poet realizes that his memory fades, and as it dies out he is left yearning for more. He does not feel satisfied and longs for his country home.

25) He refers to the memories of his country as fragile crystal that seems reals at one moment but could disintegrate into another.

26) Beside the horses, he also remembers the open field and the lone tree that are parts of his memory.

27)The poet remembers his childhood and realizes that he misses the very things that he used to fear at one time.

Category: Analysis

About Gaynor Borade

Hi. My name is Gaynor and I have been an academic facilitator since 1992. I have successfully developed and imparted the ICSE, IGCSE and IBDP English and History syllabi. My endeavour is to make support material available to students, who find the prescribed content, analysis and collation of information particularly challenging.

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