Glasgow Sonnet i

In response to the last post’s poetic description of Edinburgh, this time we’ve got a response from the west coast: Edwin Morgan’s “Glasgow Sonnet i”. This is from a sequence of sonnets Morgan wrote, reflecting the not always pleasant realities of life in Glasgow.

                               i

A mean wind wanders through the backcourt trash.
Hackles on puddles rise, old mattresses
puff briefly and subside. Play-fortresses
of brick and bric-a-brac spill out some ash.
Four storeys have no windows left to smash,
but the fifth a chipped sill buttresses
mother and daughter the last mistresses
of that black block condemned to stand, not crash.
Around them the cracks deepen, the rats crawl.
The kettle whimpers on a crazy hob.
Roses of mould grow from ceiling to wall.
The man lies late since he has lost his job,
smokes on one elbow, letting his coughs fall
thinly into an air too poor to rob.

From Collected Poems, Manchester: Carcanet Press, 1990, p. 289.

Obviously Morgan’s not suggesting all of Glasgow is like that (don’t want the Glaswegian Tourist Board out for blood!), but it’s an unconventional contrast between form and content; the sonnet form is an interesting choice, of course: Sonnets conventionally being love poems, dealing with pleasant images.

If you’re interested in Morgan (why wouldn’t you be…) you can read more of his poetry here - http://www.edwinmorgan.com/index.html – or better yet, buy some of his books.

For more info on sonnets, you could try some of these:

Enjoy!

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