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Edwin Muir (1887–1959)


The rivulet-loving wanderer Abraham
Through waterless wastes tracing his fields of pasture
Led his Chaldean herds and fattening flocks
With the meandering art of wavering water
That seeks and finds, yet does not know its way.
He came, rested and prospered, and went on,
Scattering behind him little pastoral kingdoms,
And over each one its own particular sky,
Not the great rounded sky through which he journeyed,
That went with him but when he rested changed.
His mind was full of names
Learned from strange peoples speaking alien tongues,
And all that was theirs one day he would inherit.
He died content and full of years, though still
The Promise had not come, and left his bones,
Far from his father's house, in alien Canaan.

Edwin Muir (1887–1959) was a poet, novelist, translator, and critic, born in Deerness, Orkney Island, Scotland. In 1939 he converted to Christianity, and in 1955 he became Norton Professor of English at Harvard University. Muir published nearly thirty volumes of poetry and prose, and eighteen volumes of translation with his wife Willa.

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