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They Could Not Tell Me Who Should Be My Lord

Edwin Muir 1887 (Orkney) – 1959 (Cambridge)



They could not tell me who should be my lord,
But I could read from every word they said
The common thought: Perhaps that lord was dead,
And only a story now and a wandering word.
How could I follow a word or serve a fable,
They asked me. `Here are lords a-plenty. Take
Service with one, if only for your sake,
Yet better be your own master if you're able.'
I would rather scour the roads, a masterless dog,
Than take such service, be a public fool,
Obstreperous or tongue-tied, a good rogue,
Than be with those, the clever and the dull,
Who say that lord is dead; when I hear
Daily his dying whisper in my ear.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Edwin Muir

Edwin Muir was an Orcadian poet, novelist and translator, born on a farm in Deerness on the Orkney Islands. He is remembered for his deeply felt and vivid poetry in plain language with few stylistic preoccupations. more…

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