Monday, September 05, 2011

Edwin Morgan Selected Poems

Actually the book is the New Selected Poems, but as the book is now over 10 years old, that New can be a little confusing!

Edwin Morgan was Scotland's greatest poet, who died last year at the age of 90. He was an incredibly versatile poet and could move with great ease between sonnets and experimental form and subjects varying from tender love poems to science fiction, poems about the history of Scotland and a poem in the voice of the Loch Ness Monster.

New Selected Poems showcases the whole range of his talents. I love the surrealism of many of his poems, as in From the Video Box: 25 - an imagining of the televising of the world jigsaw finals:

.............But what I liked best
was the last shot of the completed sea
filling the screen; then the saw lines disappeared,
till almost imperceptibly the surface moved

Although he didn't write often about nature, Morgan did have a fine sense of the natural world, as shown in An Abandoned Culvert:

The daffodils sang shrill within the culvert.
Their almost acid notes amazed the darkness

and he could write a good campaigning environmental poem too as in The White Rhinoceros which proves that poetry doesn't need to rant to make a campaigning point:

and the safety catches started to click in the thickets
for more. Run holy hide - take up your armour-
Run - white horn, tin clown, crown of rain woods

Morgan is best known perhaps for both his science fiction poetry and his love poetry. His science fiction poetry is very clever and often highly entertaining such as The First Men on Mercury, in which the voices of the earthlings and the Mercurians move closer and closer together, until they can barely be distinguished and eventually change still further so that the Mercurians are speaking English and the earthlings are speaking gibberish.

Morgan's love poetry is tender and often melancholy. Morgan came out as gay on his 70th birthday, you can read more about his sexuality and his love poetry in this excellent article on Aethelred the Unread, where you can also find Morgan's well known love poem Strawberries.

Edwin Morgan: New Selected Poems published by Carcanet

Reviewed for the LGBT reading challenge

Cross-posted to Crafty Green Poet

As ever. coloured text contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


Gillena Cox said...

crossed over from 'crafty green..'


much love...

HKatz said...

an imagining of the televising of the world jigsaw finals
I love how imaginative this is; I've never seen such a topic.

Thanks for pointing him out; I had never heard of him, but now I'd like to look into his work.

Sandy's witterings said...

"greatest" - now there's a claim Juliet. He did get a mention on the box the other day for giving George Mackay Brown a mighty push before he was famous, and I've always liked his Strawberries