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Glasgow Sonnets by Edwin Morgan

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Glasgow Sonnets by Edwin Morgan


Critical Essay

Q:     Structure is an important feature in poetry.  Choose a poem which has very deliberate structure (rhyme, rhythm, form etc) and write about it in such a way as to explain the contribution made by its structure to your appreciation of the poem.


Glasgow Sonnets by Edwin Morgan is a great example of the importance of structure in poetry.  The poem consists of fourteen lines of equal length, which is split into an eight line octet and a six line sestet.

The first eight lines – octet – are describing the area which the poem is based on, the focus is on a bleak looking building and everything that surrounds it.  The opening line has great significance as it describes the wind as ‘mean’ this instantly gives me an insight to the tone of the poem, which is one of sadness, poverty and deprivation.  By the use of the word ‘mean’ it personifies the wind which is being described, making me visualise deprivation and poverty.  Also

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As I read on to line four I notice plosive alliteration used in the words ‘brick and bric-a-brac’ these words along with the last words of line three ‘Play-fortresses’ create an image of war games being played in the bin area in the back court of the building.  The last word of line four ‘ash’ suggests destruction; this word is also part of the rhyming pattern.

In the last lines of the octet the focus begins to move upwards to describe the building itself, this happens in line five.  The word ‘smash’ is used which has the same sound quality as ‘trash’ in line one and also ‘ash’ in line four.  Line six starts with the word ‘But’ this makes me stop and think that maybe something is about to change.  The change that is shown, is that the once thought of derelict building has some life within it.  Line six and seven both end with the sound quality of ‘esses’ which is the sound pattern used throughout the octet.   The last line of the octet is ironic.

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The last few lines of the poem Morgan gives a simple statement about a man who lives in this decrepit building.  The man is described as useless, bored, and poor in wealth and in health.  This adds to the overall despair of the whole situation.

As I look over the whole poem I can visualise the poverty bestowed on the people who live in this dark, bleak broken building.  I feel sympathy for them and the building itself.  By Morgan’s great use of words and techniques such as imagery, alliteration, irony and his rhythmical pattern he has created a picture of the poverty of that era, which helps us understand times gone by.

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