GLASGOW 5TH MARCH 1971
(An “Instamatic” Poem)
With a ragged diamond
of shattered plate-glass
a young man and his girl
are falling backwards into a shop-window
The young man’s face
is bristling with fragments of glass
and the girl’s leg has
caught on the broken window
and spurts arterial blood
over her wet-look white coat.
Their arms are starfished out
braced for impact,
and their faces show surprise, shock,
and the beginning of pain.
The two youths who have pushed them
are about to complete the operation,
reaching into the window
to loot what they can smartly.
Their faces show no expression.
It is a sharp clear night
In the background two drivers
keep their eyes on the road.
Notes for Mr Crawford's Intermediate students:
• The poem describes an incident in a Glasgow street when a young couple are pushed backwards through a shop window by two youths who are intent on robbing the shop. The poem goes on to describe the attitude of the youths and of the other people who are in the vicinity at the time.
• Glasgow 5th of March 1971 gives us an insight into the violent reality of inner city life. A sense of objectivity is created because the poet himself does not appear in the poem.
Begins describing the foreground and introduces the reader to the incident.
Techniques in Stanza 1
• Metaphor: “Ragged diamond”
• “Ragged” is a good word to use as it makes the glass sound uneven, sharp and splintered. This makes the image more violent as the reader imagines this dangerous surface contacting the young couple.
• Onomatopoeia- “Shattered plate glass”
• The repetition of the “sh/s” sound sounds like shards of glass showering the ground.
• Stanza 2
zooms the focus out to reveal the extent of the injuries to the young couple. They are rather horrific.
Techniques in Stanza 2
• “The young man’s face is bristling with fragments of glass”. • The young man’s face is a very sensitive area. The fact that it has been damaged is painful to think about and represents the life changing aspect of this attack as his face will be heavily scarred.
• Metaphor: “The young man’s face is bristling with fragments of glass”. • This metaphor effectively compares the tiny pieces of glass imbedded in the young man’s face with stubble.
• “The girl’s leg has caught on the broken glass” • This is a very violent image which implies the soft flesh of her leg has been moving at speed and stopped by a sharp piece of glass. This results in her horrific injuries.
• “Spurts arterial blood over her wet look white coat” • Spurts is an effective word to choose as it reminds us that the blood from an artery would be highly pressurised and would exit the body very quickly. This reminds the reader that the injury is life threatening.
• “Spurts arterial blood over her wet look white coat” • The jacket is important as the blood stands out against a white jacket. The wet look coat is now ironically literally wet with blood.
• Stanza three deals with reaction as the focus zooms out to the middle ground. We can now see the reaction of the young couple and the reaction of the youths. • For the youths this is part of a day’s work. Their lack of concern for the couple is shown in the line “Their faces show no expression”.
Techniques in Stanza 3
• Metaphor: Starfished out. This compares the body position of the young couple to that of a starfish and highlights to the reader how vulnerable and open the couple are to the pain that is being inflicted on them. It once again emphasises the violence inflicted on an innocent and helpless couple.