Mark Fraser: Day One Hundred and Thirty Six: Another Favourite

Posted on May 16, 2011 by

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Ironically, after yesterday’s post, I found myself studying Edwin Morgan for Scottish Literature exam on Wednesday.

I’m going to post another one of my favourites, but before I do that some explanation is required.

When I started studying Scottish Literature we looked at two pre-WWII, Modersist poets – Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Muir. Both are unquestionably great poets, and when the end of the semester rolled around last Christmas, we were asked which poet we would remember most.

Hugh MacDiarmid was pointed out by the tutor as being the one that most people tend to remember long after they have finished the course, usually because his poetry is tough but rewarding after analysis. Particularly through his use of a version of Lallans (a kind of synthetic Scots) that he created to write a lot of his poetry in and the nationalist, political nature of his work. He was a staunch nationalist, so staunch in fact that he was involved in the creation of the Scottish Nationalist Party – the current ruling party in Scottish. I can understand why people would remember him, aside from being an excellent poet he was a great character who was very brash and voracious about his nationalism, believing that not only should Scots be proud of their nation, it’s achievements and their nationalism, but also that the use of the Scots language allowed Scots to add another creative string to their bow. Effectively making them bi-lingual.

MacDiarmid was a great poet but I find myself drawn to the works of Edwin Muir, and ultimately I find his stuff more interesting. It’s worth noting that Muir is a much more “traditional” poet, and I think that’s part of the reason I am attracted to his works.

At any rate, his poem titled The Horses is what actually inspired me to write poetry in the first place; I think it’s a stunning piece of work. Although it starts off sombre, particularly as it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s also ends in a hopeful way. Similarly, even though it’s written in free verse it still uses the traditional technique of iambic pentameter (if that doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s pretty much what all of Shakespeare’s work written in and you can read about the finer points right here).

So I share with you, The Horses by Edwin Muir, which you can read by clicking on the picture above.. Perhaps my favourite poem of all time and I might even have some of it tattooed on my some day. It has brought me great inspiration and perhaps it will bring some to you.

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Posted in: Mark Fraser