The Bird by Edwin Muir

Meadow Pipit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
Meadow Pipit in flight


Here’s another of my favourite poems by Orcadian poet Edwin Muir.

The Bird

Adventurous bird walking upon the air,
Like a schoolboy running and loitering, leaping and springing,
Pensively pausing, suddenly changing your mind
To turn at ease on the heel of a wing-tip. Where
In all the crystalline world was there to find
For your so delicate walking and airy winging
A floor so perfect, so firm and so fair,
And where a ceiling and walls so sweetly ringing,
Whenever you sing, to your clear singing?

The wide-winged soul itself can ask no more
Than such a pure, resilient and endless floor
For its strong-pinioned plunging and soaring and upward and upward springing.

Meadow Pipit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
Meadow Pipit in flight


I have wondered many times which bird Edwin Muir might have meant when he wrote this poem. It was when I photographed this Meadow Pipit flying on the mainland of Orkney that I felt it was just right. Then I realised that the poem isn’t really about a bird at all.

I still treasure my copy of Edwin Muir’s Selected Poems. Here’s a link so you discover it for yourself:

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