Childhood – a poem by Edwin Muir

I find Orcadian poet Edwin Muir’s poetry so rich in symbols, metaphors and similes that it’s a constant joy to discover poems by him. Here’s one of my favourites, ‘Childhood’.

Childhood

Long time he lay upon the sunny hill,
To his father’s house below securely bound.
Far off the silent, changing sound was still,
With the black islands lying thick around.

He saw each separate height, each vaguer hue,
Where the massed islands rolled in mist away,
And though all ran together in his view
He knew that unseen straits between them lay.

Often he wondered what new shores were there.
In thought he saw the still light on the sand,
The shallow water clear in tranquil air;
And walked through it in joy from strand to strand.

Over the sound a ship so slow would pass
That in the black hill’s gloom it seemed to lie
The evening sound was smooth like sunken glass,
And time seemed finished ere the ship passed by.

Grey tiny rocks slept round him where he lay,
Moveless as they, more still as evening came,
The grasses threw straight shadows far away,
And from the house his mother called his name.

Alone on the rocky shore - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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

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