Edwin Muir

(15 May 1887 – 3 January 1959 / Orkney / Scotland)

Scotland 1941


We were a tribe, a family, a people.
Wallace and Bruce guard now a painted field,
And all may read the folio of our fable,
Peruse the sword, the sceptre and the shield.
A simple sky roofed in that rustic day,
The busy corn-fields and the haunted holms,
The green road winding up the ferny brae.
But Knox and Melville clapped their preaching palms
And bundled all the harvesters away,
Hoodicrow Peden in the blighted corn
Hacked with his rusty beak the starving haulms.
Out of that desolation we were born.

Courage beyond the point and obdurate pride
Made us a nation, robbed us of a nation.
Defiance absolute and myriad-eyed
That could not pluck the palm plucked our damnation.
We with such courage and the bitter wit
To fell the ancient oak of loyalty,
And strip the peopled hill and altar bare,
And crush the poet with an iron text,
How could we read our souls and learn to be?
Here a dull drove of faces harsh and vexed,
We watch our cities burning in their pit,
To salve our souls grinding dull lucre out,
We, fanatics of the frustrate and the half,
Who once set Purgatory Hill in doubt.

Now smoke and dearth and money everywhere,
Mean heirlooms of each fainter generation,
And mummied housegods in their musty niches,
Burns and Scott, sham bards of a sham nation,
And spiritual defeat wrapped warm in riches,
No pride but pride of pelf. Long since the young
Fought in great bloody battles to carve out
This towering pulpit of the Golden Calf,
Montrose, Mackail, Argyle, perverse and brave,
Twisted the stream, unhooped the ancestral hill.
Never had Dee or Don or Yarrow or Till
Huddled such thriftless honour in a grave.
Such wasted bravery idle as a song,
Such hard-won ill might prove Time's verdict wrong,
And melt to pity the annalist's iron tongue.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Form:


Do you like this poem?
1 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: courage, pride, money, family, song, green, people, sky, wind, city

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Scotland 1941 by Edwin Muir )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. If, Rudyard Kipling
  4. A Red, Red Rose, Robert Burns
  5. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  8. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
  10. Alone, Maya Angelou

Poem of the Day

poet Christopher Marlowe

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;

...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. Christmas Angel, louis rams
  2. To Bed! To Bed!, David Lewis Paget
  3. Lie, Sydney Bramer
  4. Christmas Holiday Thanks, louis rams
  5. Worthless, Sydney Bramer
  6. Wishing..., Almedia Knight Oliver
  7. I Do Love, michael walkerjohn
  8. My Pretty Baby, Vera Sidhwa
  9. Christmas Holiday Guest, louis rams
  10. Pretty Baby, Vera Sidhwa
[Hata Bildir]