However, the profile in today's Guardian, on the occasion of his become Scotland's (first?) Poet Laureate intrigued me to the extent that I will probably stump up for his Collected Poems that I have previously glossed over whenever I've been browsing in Kentish Town's Owl Bookshop.
What particularly intrigued me in the profile was the focus on his love poems. Funnily enough, I have previously thought of him as a previous Scottish generation's version of Momus - the European identification, the engagement with avant gardes and with technology. Which, as I say, I find interesting rather than heartbreaking.
I was sufficiently moved to check out the exemplary website - www.edwinmorgan.com where I found the following poem.
There were never strawberrieslike the ones we hadthat sultry afternoonsitting on the stepof the open french windowfacing each otheryour knees held in minethe blue plates in our lapsthe strawberries glisteningin the hot sunlightwe dipped them in sugarlooking at each othernot hurrying the feastfor one to comethe empty plateslaid on the stone togetherwith the two forks crossedand I bent towards yousweet in that airin my armsabandoned like a childfrom your eager mouththe taste of strawberriesin my memorylean back againlet me love you
let the sun beaton our forgetfulnessone hour of allthe heat intenseand summer lightningon the Kilpatrick hills
let the storm wash the plates
This is the thread where you can tell us what you think and feel about Edwin Morgan.
― Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Saturday, 28 February 2004 15:18 (fifteen years ago) link
They were delicious, so sweetand so cold
― Donald, Saturday, 28 February 2004 17:32 (fifteen years ago) link
― cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:31 (fifteen years ago) link
Your thorned back heavily under the creel you steadily stamped the rising daffodil.
Your set mouth forgives no-one, not even God's justice perpetually drowning law with grace.
Your cold eyes watched your drunken husband come unsteadily from Sodom home.
Your grained hands dandled full and sinful cradles. You built for your children stone walls.
Your yellow hair burned slowly in a scarf of grey wildly falling like the mountain spray.
Finally you're alone among the unforgiving brass, the slow silences, the sinful glass.
Who never learned, not even aging, to forgive our poor journey and our common grave
while the free daffodils wave in the valleys and on the hills the deer look down with their instinctive skills,
and the huge sea in which your brothers drowned sings slow over the headland and the peevish crow.
ow! reminds me of that phrase, which could be from "the house with the green shutters" (this really is a world tour of scottish lit.), about "sour pints". (alan warner has told endearing anecdotes, in his scrubbed graeme spears' scottish, of seeing iain walking about his childhood town, "the local eccentric" taking his dirty washing down the street to the laundrette perched on his shoulder.) anyway I stumbled upon a selected works of morgan today (carcanet) and rifled through it finding the two of his poems that I did once take to loving ("the death of marilyn monroe", see 'the poetry thread', and "king billy".) I read these two poems on the way out of the city this early evening and it felt like the air was pulsing around me, stretching out to fill the train cabin by contracting around my skin, they ruined me for the rest of the evening. I can't explain it; I'm not sure it was me who said it first but did once say that the best poetry should frighten you and I think this is what morgan managed. or the poems did.
― cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:44 (fifteen years ago) link
― cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:52 (fifteen years ago) link
― I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Friday, 19 March 2004 03:20 (fifteen years ago) link
― Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 15:51 (fifteen years ago) link
If you ask what my favourite programme is it has to be that strange world jigsaw final. After the winner had defeated all his rivals with harder and harder jigsaws, he had to prove his mettle by completing one last absolute mindcrusher on his own, under the cameras, in less than a week. We saw, but he did not, what the picture would be: the mid-Atlantic, photographed from a plane,as featureless a stretch as could be found, no weeds, no flotsam, no birds, no oil, no ships, the surface neither stormy nor calm, but ordinary, a light wind on a slowly rolling swell. Hand-cut by a fiendish jigger to simulate, but not to have, identical beaks and bays, it seemed impossible; but the candidate--- he said he was a stateless person, called himself Smith--- was impressive: small, dark, nimble, self-contained. The thousands of little grey tortoises were scattered on the floor of the studio; we saw the clock; he started. His food was brought to him, but he hardly ate. He had a bed, with the light only dimmed to a weird blue, never out. By the first day he had established the edges, saw the picture was three metres long and appeared to represent (dear God!) the sea. Well, it was a man's life, and the silence (broken only by sighs, click of wood, plop of coffee in paper cups) that kept me fascinated. Even when one hand was picking the edge-pieces I noticed his other hand was massing sets of distinguishing ripples or darker cross-hatching or incipient wave-crests; his mind, if not his face, worked like a sea. It was when he suddenly rose from his bed at two, on the third night, went straight over to one piece and slotted it into a growing central patch, then back to bed, that I knew he would make it. On the sixth day he looked haggard and slow, with perhaps a hundred pieces left, of the most dreary unmarked lifeless grey. The camera showed the clock more frequently. He roused himself, and in a quickening burst of activity, with many false starts, began to press that inhuman insolent remnant together. He did it, on the evening of the sixth day. People streamed onto the set. Bands played. That was fine. But what I liked best was the last shot of the completed sea, filling the screen; then the saw-lines disappeared, till almost imperceptibly the surface moved and it was again the real Atlantic, glad to distraction to be released, raised above itself in growing gusts, allowed to roar as rain drove down and darkened, allowed to blot, for a moment, the orderer's hand.
― cozen (Cozen), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 18:54 (fifteen years ago) link
― Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 19:50 (fifteen years ago) link
― cozen (Cozen), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 19:55 (fifteen years ago) link
― cozen (Cozen), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 19:56 (fifteen years ago) link
― the bluefox, Tuesday, 23 March 2004 21:28 (fifteen years ago) link
― Michael White (Hereward), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 23:40 (fifteen years ago) link
― aurora, Monday, 29 March 2004 11:20 (fifteen years ago) link
Carcanet's New Selected Poems is an essential purchase. There's a tendency in Scottish Studies to overpraise writers for their, well, Scottishness, but Morgan really is a world class poet. And while he's identified with Glasgow, he's very much a cosmopolitan. He's an inspirational figure really.Generations of Scottish school children have been introduced to concrete and sound poetry via him. How wonderful is that? I've been reading and rereading his work lately as part of my masters dissertation. His Sonnets From Scotland from 1984 are superb. Having just read De Quincey's Confessions Of An English Opium Eater, Morgan's sonnett De Quincey In Glasgow really struck me. A visionary Glasgow poem - something Morgan, and sadly too few others, is a master at:
When afternoons grew late, he feared and longed for dusk. In that high room in Rottenrow he looks out east to the Necropolis Its crowded tombs rise jostling, living, throngedwith shadows, and the granite-bloodying glowflares on the dripping bronze of a used kris.
His love poems are beautiful. Deeply touching, but gorgeously sensuous too.
Of his concrete poems, this is a favourite:
Siesta of a Hungarian Snake
s sz sz SZ sz SZ sz ZS zs Zs zs zs z
― Stew, Friday, 12 June 2009 21:59 (ten years ago) link
Interesting to see Crichton-Smith, Muir and Morgan come up on ILB. I read most of C-S and Muir's stuff many years ago, also some but less Morgan who seemed too wilfully cerebral for my tastes - admittedly an opinion based on a fairly superficial acquaintance. Strawberries is an obvious and very beautiful exception, although I know it from having heard it read more recently on tv or radio I think - I don't remember seeing it in print before I spotted this thread. In the end I thought CS a fairly modest talent tbh, and even Muir, though definitely more interesting, is a bit bloodless, going from dream-and-myth abstractions to moral abstractions without taking in much of the stink of life. His Autobiography is exceptional, more interesting than his poetry IMO, and he seems to have been an incredibly nice man.
― frankiemachine, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 21:55 (ten years ago) link
― The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Friday, 8 March 2019 23:34 (ten months ago) link
... didn't work, did it?
― The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Friday, 8 March 2019 23:36 (ten months ago) link
... or that.
― The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Friday, 8 March 2019 23:37 (ten months ago) link
... I know when I'm beat.
― The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Friday, 8 March 2019 23:41 (ten months ago) link
― ( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Friday, 8 March 2019 23:49 (ten months ago) link
The boy done good.
― The Vangelis of Dating (Tom D.), Saturday, 9 March 2019 00:01 (ten months ago) link
will gie it a listen when I'm hame (am at work at the mo)
loved reading edwin morgan in school. perhaps my favourite thing that i had to read for english class.
― ( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Saturday, 9 March 2019 00:38 (ten months ago) link