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Edwin Muir

"Scotland's Winter" - Edwin Muir

Now the ice lays its smooth claws on the sill,
The sun looks from the hill
Helmed in his winter casket,
And sweeps his arctic sword across the sky.
The water at the mill
Sounds more hoarse and dull.
The miller's daughter walking by
With frozen fingers soldered to her basket
Seems to be knocking
Upon a hundred leagues of floor
With her light heels, and mocking
Percy and Douglas dead,
And Bruce on his burial bed,
Where he lies white as may
With wars and leprosy,
And all the kings before
This land was kingless,
And all the singers before
This land was songless,
This land that with its dead and living waits the Judgement Day.
But they, the powerless dead,
Listening can hear no more
Than a hard tapping on the floor
A little overhead
Of common heels that do not know
Whence they come or where they go
And are content
With their poor frozen life and shallow banishment.

Born in Orkney in 1887, Edwin Muir's wide and varied career is reflected in a brief chronology, detailing his appointment as the Director of British Council, Prague in 1946, and Rome in 1949, as well as his literary career as an academic, novelist, and poet. His poetry Includes ' Scotland 1941', 'Scotland's Winter', and 'Merlin'.

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