On Poetry and Culture Shock

Edwin Morgan: Glasgow Sonnet 1

from Glasgow Sonnets

I have said before that when I grow up, I want to be Alan Spence, right? Okay, my beloved Alan Spence takes quite a lot of inspiration from Edwin Morgan. I know very few of his poems; this is taken from a sequence. I stand in awe. No, actually, I'm green with envy at someone with such a strong control of rhyme. If you're reading this in Spanish, leave a comment if you want me to translate; I haven't done it as usual because I'm sure I'll kill the sonnet form, which is the whole point.


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.
Four storeys have no windows left to smash,
but the fifth a chipped sill buttresses
mother and daughter the last mistresses
of that black block condemned to stand, not crash.
Around them the cracks deepen, the rats crawl.
The kettle whimpers on a crazy hob.
Roses of mould grow from ceiling to wall.
The man lies late since he has lost his job,
smokes on one elbow, letting his coughs fall
thinly into an air too poor to rob.

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