In his Autobiography (1954), the Scottish poet Edwin Muir expressed bitterness at the late start he got on poetry. “I was thirty-five … and passing through a stage which, if things had been different, I should have reached ten years earlier. I began to write poetry at thirty-five instead of at twenty-five or twenty.” In fact, his First Poems was published in 1925, when Muir was thirty-eight. It had been preceded by a ten-year spell of odd jobs, unsettled opinions (Nietzsche, socialism), and unhappy love affairs. He had already produced a volume of aphoristic essays, We Moderns (1918), which show Muir under the spell of Nietzsche and which he later disowned. In 1922, on a visit to Dresden with his wife, Muir had a kind of revelation: “I must live over again the years which I had lived wrongly … everyone should live his life twice, for the first attempt is always blind.” The theme of repetition or...


A Message from the Editors

Receive ten digital and print issues plus a bonus issue when you subscribe to The New Criterion by August 31.

Popular Right Now