The Late Swallow – a poem by Edwin Muir

Orcadian poet Edwin Muir is a favourite of mine. As I watched the Swallows at Einar I remembered his wonderful poem The Late Swallow and the line:

‘Why should you cling
Still to the swiftly ageing narrowing day?’

That is such a perfect description of the shortening days here in Orkney. He truly was a master of language.

The Late Swallow

Leave, leave your well-loved nest,
Late swallow, and fly away.
Here is no rest
For hollowing heart and wearying wing.
Your comrades all have flown
To seek their southern paradise
Across the great earth’s downward sloping side,
And you are alone.
Why should you cling
Still to the swiftly ageing narrowing day?
Prepare;
Shake your pinions long untried
That now must bear you there where you would be
Through all the heavens of ice;
Till falling down the homing air
You light and perch on the radiant tree.

Fledging Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the)

Fledging Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the)

I still treasure my copy of Edwin Muir’s Selected Poems. Here’s a link:

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