By Edwin Muir
By Edwin Muir
All through that summer at ease we lay,
And daily from the turret wall
We watched the mowers in the hay
And the enemy half a mile away
They seemed no threat to us at all.
For what, we thought, had we to fear
With our arms and provender, load on load,
Our towering battlements, tier on tier,
And friendly allies drawing near
On every leafy summer road.
Our gates were strong, our walls were thick,
So smooth and high, no man could win
A foothold there, no clever trick
Could take us dead or quick,
Only a bird could have got in.
What could they offer us for bait?
Our captain was brave and we were true…
There was a little private gate,
A little wicked wicket gate.
The wizened warder let them through.
Oh then our maze of tunneled stone
Grew thin and treacherous as air.
The cause was lost without a groan,
The famous citadel overthrown,
And all its secret galleries bare.
How can this shameful tale be told?
I will maintain until my death
We could do nothing, being sold:
Our only enemy was gold,
And we had no arms to fight it with
Edwin Muir (1887-1959) was a renowned Scottish poet, novelist, translator and critic. He was remembered for his vivid poetry. He began writing poetry at a relatively old age, and over the course of several years worked out an individual, philosophical style for which he gained recognition later in his life. First Poems and Chorus of the Newly Dead contain Muir’s initial attempts. Muir’s later collections include Variations on a Time Theme, The Narrow Place, The Voyage and Other Poems, The Labyrinth, and One Foot in Eden.
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