Glasgow 5 March 1971
Edwin Morgan’s “Glasgow 5 March 1971” makes us think about the themes of violence, hypocrisy, and good versus evil, innocence, crime, community and society. The short poem only has 7 sentences (23 lines) but it contains many layers of meaning as Morgan has packed in many clever poetic techniques to make me think about the modern world and the causes and consequences of crime. The poem is very visual (like a serious of snapshots) and has sound effects as Morgan wants to place the readers at the scene of the crime to see what our reaction would be. The poem’s title informs us of the place and time. The poem is written in the present tense and this makes it feel as if it is happening right now (and similar incidents actually are). It is about a seemingly random crime and the poem starts in the middle of the action as a young man and his girl “are falling” through a shattered plate glass window having been pushed by two looters “who complete the operation smartly”. The man seems to have hurt his face while the girl has “caught” her leg and it now “spurts arterial blood over her wet-look white coat”. She needs immediate first aid yet two passing drivers “keep their eyes on the road”. The uneven line lengths of the poem give it a ragged edge just like the shape of the “ragged plate glass window” but also remind me of the heart monitor the girl may need. I think the fact that Morgan’s narrator is neutral/unbiased and unemotional is deliberate. Morgan wants the readers to react to his coldness and think about what has happened to make people be so cruel and hurtful to other people and show no emotion when doing it. Morgan creates lots of images of sharpness in our heads. The shape of the broken window is a “ragged diamond” and the metaphor “starfishes” shows us the misshapen shape of the victims’ outstretched limbs as they “braced for impact”. Their arms and legs are all cut and helpless. The man’s face has lots of pieces of broken glass on it....
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