Monday, December 04, 2006

Exsules filii Hevæ

OW 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.

Edwin Muir - Scotland's Winter


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't that be "Exsules filii Hevae"?

Moretben said...

Thanks, anon. Some time I'll tell you how I got sacked from a proofreading job.

Anonymous said...

Poor banished children of Eve ...

Edwin Muir speaks for lots of us, and speaks loudly. But the poor miller's daughter is as poor a banished child of Eve as the rest of us. Her heels, her vanity, are the same as Percy's, Douglas'and Bruce's.

Anonymous said...

Another good find, verse and picture


William Tighe said...

The photograph; is it the abbey ruins at Whitby?

Moretben said...


Yes - but "Percy...Douglas...and Bruce" knew it.


It's Melrose Abbey, in the Scottish Borders.

Anonymous said...

You're very welcome. As someone who has a talent only for finding others' typos, I'm happy to have been of assistance. By the way, thank you for a very interesting blog which has quickly become a daily read for me. Oremus pro invicem!