Born on the Orkney island of Wyre in 1887, Edwin Muir settled in various parts of Europe during the first half of the twentieth century - from Glasgow, to Austria and Czechoslovakia throughout to 1920s, 1930s and again after the war. Muir's poetry bears oblique witness to the most traumatic years and events of this century, and is haunted by the symbolic 'fable' which he longed to find beneath the surface 'story' of mere events, as he came to terms with his own nature amidst the terror and confusion of the European maelstrom. As Seamus Heaney has written: 'Muir's poetic strength revealed itself in being able to co-ordinate the nightmare of history with that place in himself where he had trembled with
anticipation . . . His simultaneous at-homeness and abroadness is exemplary.'