Fiona Cruse essay - mrsbowieintermediatetwoenglish

Fiona Cruse
Sample Essay ‘Trio’
Category 2 (19)
Like many works of literature ‘Trio’ by Edwin Morgan has more than one level of
meaning. At first glance, the poem seems to be about a normal, everyday experience
which took place on a winter’s evening on Buchan Street in Glasgow. Although, when
we take a closer look at the poem, the reader realises that the poet is actually making a
much deeper comment about life. The poem is ultimately concerned with Morgan’s ideas
and thoughts that the religious aspect of Christmas becomes irrelevant in the face of the
human aspect of Christmas. This is embodied in the form of love, friendship, generosity,
charity and happiness which is so evident at this time of year. In this essay I will show
how the techniques used by the poet helped make this poem and its ideas memorable to
Throughout the poem, the poet uses many different techniques, one of which is the use of
the present tense “coming up Buchanan Street”. The fact that the poet has written this in
the present tense adds realism to the poem and makes the reader feel like they are
witnessing the event. Also, the fact that Buchanan street is real location gives the
poem’s message universal significance as by presenting a cross section of society,
Morgan is able to show how the scene he witnessed is representative of society as a
One technique that the poet employs repeatedly throughout the poem is comparison,
“their breath rises in a cloud of happiness”. Morgan uses metaphors to reveal his deeper
meaning and this can be taken to refer to the cold weather causing their breath to be
visible. However, Morgan uses imagery to illustrate the strength of their happiness by
suggesting that it is almost tangible and lingers in the air after they are gone. Morgan
uses this seemingly irrelevant detail to highlight the fact that everyone is capable of
feeling the joy and love that Christmas embodies regardless of religious beliefs.
Another technique that Morgan uses to make his ideas memorable is simile, “royal
stewart tartan coat like a teapot holder”. This suggests that the dog is warm, loved and
protected, all the human qualities that Morgan is celebrating in this poem. The
comparison with a ‘tea pot’ holder suggests warmth and the cosy connotation of the word
demonstrates the capacity for human beings to love.
Morgan goes on to describe what the trio are holding and focuses his description on the
young baby, “like favours in a fresh sweet cake”. This simile has very positive
connotations and the suggestion of celebration in the ‘sweet cake’ captures the good parts
of humanity and reinforces the poet’s central message.
As the poem progresses, the poet adopts a change of register, giving the poem a totally
different perspective, “Orphean sprig! Melting baby! Warm cihuahua! At this point in
the poem, the reader can clearly see that the poet is now reflecting on the significance of
what he has witnessed. He talks of his own thoughts and feelings about the scene in front
of him and conveys his central message to the reader through this use of reflection.
Imagery is used later in the poem to reinforce the importance of the scene, “life of men
and beasts and music”. This allows you to imagine exactly what Morgan thinks. The fact
that he says ‘life of’ shows how much he values these things and he does not just see
them as a group of people with a baby, a dog and a guitar. Instead, Morgan shows how
they are representative of he better parts of human nature and that we all have this
capacity to love and care.
The symbolism in the final lines is very poignant “laughter ringing round them like a
guard”. This shows how Morgan believes in the power of love and joy. The simile ‘like
a guard’ reinforces this idea by suggesting that their happiness acts as protection against
the evils of the world.
In ‘Trio’ by Edwin Morgan, the poet shows how a normal everyday occurrence can be
used to convey a much deeper comment on life. Morgan does this with skill, using many
techniques which the can allow the reader to appreciate the message below the surface.