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Glasgow 5th March

This is a critical essay for Glasgow, 5th March, 1971′, by Edwin Morgan, which is a modern instimatic poem about a shocking crime committed upon a ‘young man and his girl’ by ‘two youths’ and witnessed by two annonymous expressionless drivers who pass by without even aknowledging the crime. Morgan manages to make us feel as if we are watching this incident happen and effectively conveys the incident in the form it takes, unemotional, detached and ‘formal’. This feeling is fistly shown in the title, which is simply a place and date, the title implies it isn’t a poem but some kind of record or headline.

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In this critical essay I am going to show how the poet Edwin Morgan uses violent and anonymous themes to create a lasting impression with the help of techniques like setting, imagery and word choice. In the first stanza Morgan makes excellent use of imagery and word choice, catching our attention with the words ‘With a ragged diamond, of shattered plate glass’ This phrase immediately makes the reader think of something sharp, sparkling and dangerously beautiful. When the words diamond and shop window are put together like this we imagine them as small sparkling diamonds.

This impression is carried on later in the poem when the writer describes the setting as ‘a sharp clear night’ Even though the writer has said nothing of what sort of shop it is we subconsciously imagine a jeweller’s shop. This is technique effectively puts the reader at the scene of the crime. In the second verse the poet uses another technique, a metaphor that emphasises the brutality of the attack “bristling with fragments of glass” This metaphor the could be comparing bristles of hair to the bristles of glass lying on the mans face. It is an effective comparison because it helps the reader imagine all the tiny particles of glass.

It shows that poet wants us to recreate the incident as we read, with as much detail as possible. Edwin Morgan also uses clinical language to describe the injurys to the couple. A key example of that is the phrase, ‘spurts arterial blood’ His word choice makes the the scene more violent but also continues to detach the reader from the young victims This successfully describes the scene without showing any emotion from the writer or the victims while still going along with the violent theme. Edwin Morgan uses onomatopoeia when he says the phrases ‘shattered plate glass’, ‘bristling with fragments of glass’ ‘spurts’.

The continuation of the ‘sh’ and ‘s’ sounds throughout the poem help paint a clearer picture of the crime in the readers head. This technique is successfull as phrases add sound effects to the silent image in the readers head. The writer does not add any emotions, but he does add facial expressions of the characters. About the young man and his girl he says that, “Their faces show surprise, shock, And the beginnings of pain” This quote is effectivly emphasises the speed of events this is evident from the writer describing the how the characters are only just beginning to feel the pain when we are reading the third stanza.

The couple are also kept anonymous creating one of the main themes of the poem. This use of word choice again doesn’t show any emotion while still successfuly describing to the reader what is happening to the victims. Morgan also tells us about the two youths faces with the phrase ‘Their faces show no expression. ‘ This is the main quote that tells us that the two youths have no remorse for what they have done it also leaves the two youths anonymous like the young couple they have just pushed This helps to carry on the anonymous theme through the poem.