Edwin Morgan (27 April 1920 – 19 August 2010)



With thanks to George Szirtes and Ty Newydd

Glasgow 5 March 1971

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,
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 Sauchiehall Street.
In the background two drivers
keep their eyes on the road.
Edwin Morgan


I tend to… cultivate some small area like that fairly intensively for a while and then perhaps just simply drop it and do something else altogether. The same thing is happening at the moment with what I call my Instamatic Poems. I began a while ago by writing short poems which were directly about events which I had either read about or seen in newspapers or on television. So it's a poetry which is very closely related to real life in that sense, but I gave myself the kind of restriction that the poem must be presented in such a way as to give a visual picture of this event, whatever it was, as if somebody had been there with an Instamatic camera and had just very quickly snapped it…"
                   Nothing Not Giving Messages (Polygon, 1990), p.26-7