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Glasgow Sonnet No1

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Glasgow Sonnet No1 Edwin Morgan's Glasgow Sonnet No1 is an unconventional sonnet, which explores themes of poverty and urban decay. The deliberate use of 'sonnet' in the title is intended to mislead the reader, as the connotations of 'sonnet' include love, romance, joy and happiness; this contrasts with the morose themes of poverty and destruction in the poem. The use of 'Glasgow' in the title not only denotes the setting, but the connotations may include: predominantly working class, harsh, inner-city living (obviously this is a negative stereotype). The poem's form is a sonnet; specifically it is Petrarchan - it's structured into 14 lines of strict rhyme: ABBA ABBA CDC DCD. Iambic pentameter, traditionally used in sonnets, has been employed by Morgan and adds to the reader's appreciation of the versification. The sonnet is divided into two sections: an octave and a sestet. The octave (first eight lines) focuses on the external environment, which is unpleasant and dangerous. ...read more.


Violent and harsh monosyllables are used: 'trash, ash, smash, crash', which are complimented by lifeless rhymes of antepenultimate syllables: 'mattresses, mistresses, fortresses, buttresses' - this creates an antagonistic effect, and reflects and reinforces how sorrowful life is at the building. Imagery is integral to understanding the themes conveyed in Glasgow Sonnet No 1: "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." Morgan's word choice of 'mean', 'wind' and 'wanders' all open with labial consonants and close with 'n' - this creates a sense of the wind's movement; however, the lack of regularity suggests its movement is aimless, perhaps also reflecting a lack of motivation or direction in the building's inhabitants. 'Backcourt trash' reveals the external environment of the building is neglected. Personification is utilised: 'Hackles...puddles rise, mattresses puff...' suggesting fear and discomfort in the surroundings. Also, the inversion used in 'Hackles...rise' places emphasis on 'rise', showing the harshness of the weather. Alliteration is used in line eight: "black block". ...read more.


Similarly, 'mother and daughter' are also nameless. They are the 'last mistresses' of the building, indicating they are a dying show of strength. The use of 'mistresses' is ambiguous - in one sense it is a title of respect; however, the connotations may suggest an adulterous woman, and this undermines them. Perhaps what Morgan also suggests is that society tends to ignore poverty, and that by not having a name, that characters almost don't exist. By examining form, rhythm and rhyme, theme, imagery and word choice, it is clear that Morgan consistently and successfully depicts a very vivid and realistic image of poverty and social deprivation. The reader may at first think the sonnet form (associated with elevated themes) is an unusual choice for this topic, as the content contrasts starkly to our expectations. However, what Morgan ultimately suggests is that disadvantaged people are equally as worthy in literature as in society. I greatly appreciated how, through Morgan's unique use of this form in Glasgow Sonnet No 1, and the ideas which the poem explores, that inequality and poverty exists in society - and being reminded of this is valuable. ...read more.

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