Edwin Morgan Who is Edwin Morgan? What do we know about him?
Edwin Morgan Edwin Morgan was born on 27 April, 1920, in Glasgow. He attended Rutherglen Academy and the High School of Glasgow, before studying English at Glasgow University. During the Second World War he registered as a conscientious objector, before serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, mainly in the Middle East. He resumed his studies in 1946, and the following year began lecturing in English at Glasgow University. His first books – original poems and translations – appeared in 1952.
Edwin Morgan Morgan is commonly recognised as one of the most important poets in modern Scottish literature. In 1999, Morgan was made the first Glasgow Poet Laureate. In 2004, he was named as the first Scottish national poet: The Scots Makar. One of the reasons he is so popular is because his work is so vast ranging – he was an experimental poet who wrote about many different topics and who used many different forms of poetry to express his ideas.
Good Friday 1.What is the poem about? 2.What stands out for you most about this poem? What do you find most interesting about it?
Good Friday 1.Where and when is the poem set? 2.Why is the man, who speaks to the poet, on the bus? 3.How does the writer use language to show the man is drunk? Comment on two separate features of language. 4.What contrasts are made between the poet and the drunk man? 5.What does the layout at the end of the poem show us?
Glasgow Brainstorm all the words you associate with Glasgow. To what extent is the drunk man a stereotypical Glaswegian?
The poet/speaker What is the poet/speaker’s attitude towards the man. Choose one of the options below: Angry at him Disinterested Dislikes him Amused by him Finds him interesting It’s hard to tell Be ready to explain your answer.
Consider the following statement : “I was born in Glasgow and have lived most of my life there, and whatever image the city has to the outside world, to me it underlies and pervades my feeling at a deep level of identification and sympathy." (Edwin Morgan) Does it help us understand the poet’s attitude to the drunk man?
Language techniques The poet’s use of word choice, colloquial language and sentence structure are key techniques in helping us understand the poem. They create a very vivid picture of the situation and the character the poet is describing.
Word choice 1.What does the poet’s use of “lurches” suggest about the way the bus is moving? 2.The man “flops” beside the poet. What does this tells us about his movements? Why does he move this way? 3.Why do you think the man uses the words “wee drink”? 4.Look at the rest of the poem. What other words and phrases give us an impression of the drunk man?
Sentence structure Morgan uses sentence structure to show the man is drunk – the poem is almost a monologue as the poet only uses his own words at the start and the end. Task: Read over the drunk man’s dialogue. What do you notice about the sentence structure? Think about punctuation, sentence length, etc. What does it convey to us about the man?
A few more pointers… 1.Look at the end of the poem. How does the writer’s word choice make it clear that the drunk man is not completely out of control/that he can look after himself? 2.What is the mood at the end of the poem? Explain your answer. 3.The drunk man says that the working man is “bliddy ignorant.” Do you think the poet/poem agrees with this idea?
‘Trio’ by Edwin Morgan Read the poem with your teacher and answer the following in groups: 1.When and where is the poem set? Use a quotation to support your answer. 2.What would you say is the mood of the poem? Provide evidence for your answer. 3.Why is the poem called ‘Trio’? 4.In what way do the ‘Trio’ described link to the Christmas/Christian story?
Orpheus Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek mythology. The major stories about him are centred on his ability to charm all living things and even inanimate objects like stones with his music.
Trio –– lines 1-14 – Analysis and Evaluation 1.Consider the poet’s use of the present tense. Why is it effective? 2.What are the trio carrying? What do these items represent? What feeling do we associate with them? 3.“Their breath rises in a cloud of happiness.” Why is this phrase unusual? What is the effect? 4.Identify the two similes in this section and comment on what they suggest. How do they add to the joyful mood? 5.Pick out any other words and phrases the poet uses to create this mood.
Trio – lines 15-20 6. “The vale of tears is powerless before you.” What does the poet mean when he uses this metaphor? 7. How is the same idea continued later in this section? Quote and comment.
Final stanza 1.Look at the last stanza – do you notice anything unusual about the sentence structure? 2.Another simile is used in this section. Copy it down and then comment on its meaning. 3.What is the mood at the end of this poem? Explain your answer. 4.Can you see any similarities between this poem and the last poem – e.g. content, themes, language, layout?
Discussion Now you have read and analysed the poem. Discuss the following: What are the key themes/messages of the poem? What does the poet want to make us think about? List as many as possible.
Group Discussion The poem deals with the themes of Christmas and its meaning: religion, friendship, joy and love. You are now going to take part in an assessed group discussion on the topic of Christmas and its meaning. English: Creation and Production, Outcome 2. Literacy: Outcome 4
Group Discussion – Success Criteria Take turns to talk, listen carefully to others and acknowledge the chairperson. Explain your opinions with evidence/give reasons. Support the ideas of others by expanding on their points. Challenge others and argue against (refute) their points. The language you use should be appropriate for the topic and (when appropriate) should be used to create an effect – e.g. emotive language or repetition to persuade others. Vary the tone of your voice and use appropriate body language (e.g. eye-contact, gesture) depending on whether you are making a point, listening to someone else, etc.
In the Snack-bar Having read and analysed two of Morgan’s poems, it’s now time to use the skills you have learned independently. You will be given a set of questions on an unseen Morgan poem called ‘In the Snack-bar.’ Answer the questions in as much detail as possible. English Analysis and Evaluation: Outcome 1 Literacy: Outcome 1
In the Snack-bar Read ‘In the Snack-bar’ again with your teacher then discuss the following questions. 1. What is the poem about. 2. What emotions does the poem make us feel and why? 3. Why do you think the poet wrote this poem? What themes/ideas does he want to highlight to the reader.
26 Group Task: Annotation Working together, highlight all the language techniques the poet uses. Alliteration Simile Metaphor Onomatopoeia Word choice Repetition Punctuation Any other effective sentence structure – e.g. listing, sentence length, etc.
‘ In the Snack-bar ’ In this poem the poet uses various language techniques to highlight the nature of the disabled man’s situation. As well as being able to identify these techniques, you should be able to comment on their effects. What do they help to show the reader?
Word choice Find and comment on the following examples of word choice. Why did the writer use these words? What do they help to show? Slithering Clatter Looming Shambles Uncouth Clinical gleam He asks doubtfully Contraption
Imagery What do the following examples of imagery help us understand? “like a monstrous animal caught in a tent.” A few yards of floor are like a landscape.” “His water is thin and slow, an old man’s apology for living.” “His hands like wet leaves stuck to the half –white stick”
Sentence Structure The poet also uses a number of other structural techniques, which we can call sentence structure. These include – repetition listing long and short sentences effective punctuation. Task: You should have already highlighted examples of these. Now comment on what they help to convey to the reader.
The last stanza Look at the last stanza. What is it that the poet find most harrowing about the man’s situation? Use evidence to support your answer.
Hyena Before you read the poem discuss with your group what you think of when you think of a hyena. What is their stereotypical reputation? How are they often presented in stories? For example, Disney’s ‘The Lion King’?
Hyena The poem is written from the hyena’s point of view. Rewrite the first verse using personal pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she’ instead of ‘I’. What difference does this make to the poem? Does it give it less or more impact? Try to explain your opinion.
Hyena 1.Look at stanza one. How is the setting built up? What kind of place is described? 2.What qualities would a creature need to survive in this kind of landscape? 3.Why does the poet keep using the simile “like Africa” in stanza two? 4.What does the metaphor, “I am a ranger” suggest about the hyena and his lifestyle?
Hyena – Stanza three 1.“When the moon pours hard and cold on the veldt.” What does this metaphor suggest about the African countryside at night? 2.What impression is given of the setting in this stanza? Use evidence to support your answer. 3.The hyena howls at the moon. What impression does this give of him?
Hyena – Stanza four 1. How does the writer use word choice to show the difference between the hyena and the lion (an animal we commonly admire)? 2. In this stanza the poet comments on a common image or misconception we have of the hyena – as sly because it looks like it is laughing. What does the poet try to show us about the hyena?
Hyena– final stanza 1.What does the final stanza show us? What is it a list of? How does it help to build tension? 2.At the end the poet shows us that the hyena is not the killer. How does he use language to do this. 3.How are we meant to feel about the hyena at the end of the poem? Explain your answer. 4.What point does the poet make about our bodies after death at the end of the poem?
Annotation Now go through your poem and highlight and comment on any language techniques used by the poet. These might be examples we have already discussed or new examples you have found.
Winter Like ‘Trio’ this poem deals with the topic of winter. However, it has a very different mood. In your groups decide what the mood of this poem is. What lines/words/ideas helped you decide the mood of the poem?
Winter 1.Look at lines 1-12. How does the poet give the idea of time passing, of the seasons going by and the years passing? Quote any lines or phrases you can find which show this idea.
Winter 1.Why do you think the swan leaves when ice appears? 2.How does the poet show us the winter ice getting thicker and stronger? 3.The idea of everything being cold and dead is contrasted with the liveliness of the skaters. How does the writer use word choice to show the skaters bringing the pond to life?
Winter Straight after the liveliness of the skaters we are told that the sound and energy fades off: Fades off, goes, the scene, the voices fade, the line of trees, the woods that fall, decay and break, the dark comes down, the shouts run off into it and disappear. (lines 15-18)
Look at lines 15-18 How do these lines convey the idea of death and decay? Pick out any words and phrases which suggest death and decay.
Lines 19 - 24 1.What tells us we are now in the modern day? 2.The poet still sees winter as a symbol of death. What arrives and puts out all the light? 3.The writer uses an example of imagery to show how all consuming and lonely he thinks the cold and darkness of winter can be. Copy the imagery down. What type of imagery is this?
The ending of the poem “ and on this paper I do not know about the grey dead pane Of ice that sees nothing and that nothing sees.” In group discuss the ending of the poem. What doesn’t the poet know at the end? What does winter seem to symbolise for the poet?
The poet’s use of colour The poet uses colour throughout the poem to symbolise both life and death. Highlight any examples of this.
Symbolism The swan is a symbol of life – it leaves when winter arrives but it also relates to death when it’s described as a ghost. Winter is also symbolic of death – as is the cold ice, darkness and the fog the poet describes. However, although the poem is about death. It’s also about rejuvenation – it’s not permanent – summer will come again. The poem is about the cycle of life and death.
Compare this poem with ‘Trio’ 1.What do they have in common? 2.In what way are they different? 3.Which do you like the best and why?
Read this poem with your teacher then read the poem again in your groups. This is possibly the most challenging poem we have read. In general, what does the poem seem to be about? What clues helped you work this out?
The poem is about the physical creation of Scotland – the land forming long before man was on the Earth. “There is no beginning.” – Morgan starts with this short sentence to emphasise there is no way you can say exactly when the idea of Scotland as a nation came into existence. It is something that happened slowly and gradually – you can’t put a time/date on it. However, it started with the creation of our land – which is what he describes in his poem.
We know he is talking about Scotland as Morgan refers to two Scottish islands Staffa and Lewis. The poem is also taken form a series of poems called ‘Sonnets from Scotland’. This is the first poem in the series – the beginning of Scotland.
Lewis and Staffa Lewis and Staffa are both islands off the west coast of Scotland. Staffa is of particular geological interest because of its basaltic columns, which were formed as a result of the cooling of flows of lava as they came into contact with colder bedrock and then were exposed to Scotland's weather. When we look at the pictures of Staffa and Lewis - as oppose to the images of Glasgow we have considered – we can begin to imagine Scotland in its early stages of formation.
Volcanic formations You could watch this quick video to help you understand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMtuTf AqAbo
The Great Glen The poet also refers to the Great Glen. The Great Glen stretches for 117km from coast to coast across the Highlands, linking the main centres of Fort William and the regional capital of Inverness.
Drumlin A drumlin is an oval or elongated hill believed to have been formed by the streamlined movement of glacial ice sheets across rock debris. The name is derived from the Gaelic word druim (“rounded hill,” or “mound”) and first appeared in 1833.
Ben The word ben comes from the Gaelic Ben is Beinn meaning a mountain, a hill or a pinnacle. Think of Scottish mountains – e.g. Ben Nevis, Ben Macdui, etc. Ben Nevis ►►
The voice The speaker in the poem is the voice of Scotland. When the voice says ‘We saw Lewis laid down’ – he is talking about Scotland as a nation, a collective. The poem uses the first person pronoun we to include the speaker but also to include all of us. We all make up Scotland along with the actual physical land of Scotland. He is trying to make us see that Scotland is not just about the people in it – it’s about the land we live on too. He’s trying to show us that the land is a lot greater than us. We’re just a part of the great cycle of the Earth.
Slate 1.What does the poet mean when he says, “We saw Lewis laid down”? 2.What does the poet mean by, “Watched long seas plunder faults”? 3.Comment particularly on the use of the word plunder? What do we usually think of when we hear this word? 4.“Drumlins blue as bruises were grated off like nutmegs.” What technique is the poet using here? What does it say about the power of the glaciers? 5.What does the poet mean by “the rough back”?
Enjambment Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line-break. The poet uses enjambment at the end of line 6. This gives the line two different meanings. Say the lines out loud with a partner and try to identify the two different meanings.
Slate 1.In lines 7 -10 the poet tries to give the impression of the land changing as time passes. What helps to shape the land as time passes? 2.What feature(s) of sentence structure does the poet use to show this change? 3.How does the poet’s word choice show the violence of the weather and sea?
Slate Sonnets usually have a turning point or change in subject. The change in this sonnet comes in line 11. What is introduced in line 11 that has not yet been referred to?
Man Yes, it’s us – mankind. We didn’t exist yet. The poet uses the line – “Memory of men! That was to come.” In the first part of the poem – (lines 1-10) man doesn’t exist yet. However in line 11 man is introduced.
Lines 11-14 The poet again uses enjambment in this section. Where does he use it? What words does it emphasise?
Lines 11-14 In the last line the poet tells us that when man arrived they “threw walls to the sky.” What does the word choice of “threw” suggest about man’s treatment of the earth? Why do you think the poet calls a rainbow’s glory “sorry” once man arrives?
Last line “Their heels kicked flint, chalk, slate.” The last line is a list which reminds us what our world is made of and what we tread over everyday. It reminds us that we kick these materials out of our way – but Morgan wants to put us in our place and show us that the earth has been around a lot longer than us and it will survive longer than us. That’s why man only has 4 lines of the poem!
Form The poem takes the form of a sonnet. Sonnets are usually 14 lines long. They often have a turning point, or change in tone or topic – often called the volta. Sonnets are usually written in iambic pentameter – 10 syllables per line. Sonnets are often written as a way of paying reverence to something/someone –e.g. A lover. In this case the poet is paying reverence to Scotland.
Form Copy the first four lines of the poem in your jotter. Now underline each syllable. Now go through the poem and see if you can see a rhyming scheme.
Edwin Morgan You have now studied all the poems you might be asked about in the National 5 exam. Trio Good Friday In the Snack-bar Hyena Winter Slate