Language Tools in the Poem ‘Horses’

The poem Horses by Edwin Muir uses imagery and figurative language to create and associate the the themes such as nature, machine, power and myth. Edwin Muir uses a variety of language tools such as Paradox, simile and metaphor to create a particular effect. He conveys his feelings through the poem and to link to the past. In addition, Muir’s use of rhyme scheme with the repetition of words puts emphasis on certain lines which in turn provides development for the tone.

The Rhyme scheme for the poem is AABB thorugh out the poem that gains interest from the readers.

Muir uses many literary devices. In the phrase,”Lumbering Horses in the Steady Plough” he uses Enjambment comparing the Horses on a steady plough to a bare field. The effect created by the use of enjambment is that the feelings or memories of the poet are still ongoing and this is reflected. The enjambment helps the poem flow into the next line.

The word “lumbering” is defined as moving in a slow, heavy manner. There is consonance in the words Those, Horses, plough. The Consonance creates a more subtle effect with the repetition of the o’s.

The word containing 3 syllables slows down the rhythm of the sentence. The term ‘steady plough’ means a device pulled through the even ground in order to break it open into furrows for planting. The poet implies that he still has a fear of Horses by expressing his childhood dismay for Horses. The use of the ‘Perhaps’ denotes his uncertainty or possibility and he does not wish to be too definite or assertive in the expression of an opinion.

The word ‘Childish’ refers to a silly or suitable for a child. He is referring and relating to the past to deliver evidence to fear.

There is internal rhyme in the words some and come that adds particular emphasis and quickens the pace of the Rhythm in the phrase. The phrase contains alliteration in the words ‘childish’ and ‘come’. The Alliteration emphasizes the words giving the sentence a good sense of Rhythm and sound. The writer uses alliteration in the phrase ‘standing still’ in order to suggest the silence, calmness and fixed position of the Horses. The alliteration creates the effect of silence by associating it to the theme of the text such as a Machine. He compares that the Horses are showing signs of movement and yet they are standing still.

He uses simile to create a vivid mental image and to carry on the effect of the Horses’ effortless behaviour and power. Consonance adds to the effect by the words seem, standing still. It increases the Rhythm of the sentence and combines with the Horses steady movement. To describe the Horses movement ‘up and down’, the and in the line slows the sentence down by the amount of syllables and by connecting two clauses. The contradiction in the line where Muir describes the Horses movement but claims that it is standing still brings out a humorous effect. The line has a total of ten syllables which is a normal spoken sentence.

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