In 'The Horses', how does the poet portray the strength and power of the horses?
Muir conveys the power and strength of the horses by his dramatic description of their arrival. He uses alliteration to describe the sound of their hooves as they advance, ‘deepening drumming’ (34) and compares their advance to wild forces of nature like ‘thunder’ (35) as they sweep in like 'a wild wave'(37).
They are majestic in their beauty and the people, struggling to adapt to a post-apocalyptic world, are initially in complete awe of them, indeed they are ‘afraid’(37). The horses are also referred to in fantastical terms – like the ‘fabulous steeds’(40) which carried valiant knights of old, which gives them a certain mythical quality.
However the horses' might and power are tempered by their humility and grace. They are ready and willing to serve the humans, and they offer new hope in a bleak world. The people are grateful for their support; together humans and horses can forge an invaluable partnership.
The sense of a new start is greatly enhanced by the reference to 'Eden'(50) with all its connotations of a newly created world. Human beings may have managed to destroy their own civilisation but nature itself, in the form of the horses, stretches out a helping hand. And it seems the horses offer not just physical support, but a kind of emotional rejuvenation:
That free servitude can still pierce our hearts,
Our life is changed; their coming our beginning. (52-53)
It is interesting to note how the poem ends with the word ‘beginning’, offering clear hope for the future.