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Summary Article: Muir, Edwin
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Scottish poet. He drew mystical inspiration from his Orkney childhood. First Poems (1925) was published after an extended period of travel and residence in Europe, which also resulted in translations from German of Franz Kafka and Lion Feuchtwanger, in collaboration with his wife, the novelist Willa Anderson (1890–1970). Dreams, myths, and menaces coexist in his poetry and his Autobiography (1954) explores similar themes.

Muir was born in Deerness, Orkney, the son of a crofter. When he was 14 the family had to move to Glasgow, where the drab industrial surroundings had a great effect on him. In 1919 he married Willa and travelled to Prague with her. They returned to Scotland at the outbreak of World War II. This early part of his life is described in The Story and the Fable (1940), revised as An Autobiography (1954). After the war he returned to Prague, then went to Rome, and later worked in the USA as professor of poetry at Harvard University.

Muir's poetry represents the trend in 20th-century verse to return to a contemplation of the primitive facts of human life on Earth: time, love, and death. His early work is metaphysical, full of symbolism and imagery portraying life as a road of memories from a primeval past, but his later writing is essentially religious. Acknowledged as one of Scotland's most distinguished 20th-century poets, his works include Chorus of the Newly Dead (1926), Six Poems (1932), Variations on a Time Theme (1934), Journeys and Places (1937), The Narrow Place (1943), and One Foot in Eden (1956). Apart from translations, his prose includes The Structure of the Novel (1928), John Knox (1929), The Sleepwalkers (1932), Scottish Journey (1935), Scott and Scotland (1936), The Present Age (1939), and Essays on Literature and Society (1949). The Marionette (1927), The Three Brothers (1931), and Poor Tom (1932) are novels. Complete Poems was published in 1992.

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