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:

More Edwin Muir

Owlfly - Italy - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) Bewitched We're exploring the scrub and woodland verges and fields of an abandoned farmhouse in Apulia in the south of Italy.… read more
Noltland Castle - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) The Castle – a poem by Edwin Muir I've always felt a close connection to the poetry of Edwin Muir. His themes include loss and betrayal, life and… read more
Alone on the rocky shore - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) 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… read more
Fledging Swallow - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the) 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… read more
The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) ‘The refugees born for a land unknown’ – a poem by Edwin Muir 'I have fled through land and sea, blank land and sea, Because my house is besieged by murderers And I… read more
The Horses - a poem by Edwin Muir - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the) The Horses – a poem by Edwin Muir One of the first times I heard of Orkney was when I read Edwin Muir's poetry. It was so strong,… read more

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