Intermediate 2 Critical Essay Section C - Poetry – 45 minutes - 25 marks Answers to questions in this section should refer to the text (quotations) and to such relevant features as: word choice, tone, imagery (simile, metaphor, personification), structure, content, rhythm, theme, sound, ideas . . . Choose a poem which describes a scene or incident vividly. Briefly state what is being described and then go on to show how the poetic techniques used make the description vivid. Poetic Techniques Link to Task Question Edwin Morgan’s vivid visual poem “Glasgow 5 March 1971” deals with the themes of violence, crime, apathy and responsibility.This poem is all about street violence and how people don’t get involved. “Glasgow 5 March 1971” is a very dramatic visual poem about a “young man and his girl” who get pushed through a window by some thieves and are not helped by the passing drivers. The poet is commenting on the individualism of modern society and telling us not to stand by and watch others suffer and that we need to stop the violence in our society. It is about how society accepts violence without objecting, whilst pretending to object. In this poem, Morgan freezes a dramatic moment in time in a vivid manner. This essay will show how the poet uses an attention-grabbing opening, effective word choice and imagery to capture a moment in time which changes everything. It will then go on to show how realistic violence, everyday characters and an underlying message help to present the poet’s ideas and to add excitement and emotion to the incident he describes. The first way Morgan dramatises the incident is through an attention grabbing opening. The very first four lines pull the reader into the moment: “With a ragged diamond of shattered plate glass a young man and his girl are falling backwards into a shop window.” Morgan uses enjambment to create a sense of urgency to the poem. It becomes fast paced and exciting. The careful choice of words such as “ragged” and “shattered” have connotations of damage, and give us the impression that something is wrong, although we do not yet know what. This hooks the reader makes the opening lines seem breathless. Excellent visual imagery is another way in which the incident described is brought to life: “Their arms are starfished out braced for impact, their faces show surprise, shock and the beginning of pain.” TAGL THEMES BRIEF SUMMARY LINK TO TASK Attention Grabbing Opening Word Choice Imagery This is one or Morgan’s “instamatic” poems, in which he freezes a single moment in time, like a photograph made from words. In this moment, he uses a metaphor “starfished” to describe the way their arms are spread-eagled for balance. The present-continuous tense is used. This creates the impression that it is happening in front of the reader, or perhaps is even a statement by Morgan that this kind of violence is always going on in our society. Finally, the visual imagery of the poem adds to its impact. The couple’s expressions are detailed by the poet to build on the drama, caught in the moment between the onset of shock and the arrival of pain. In “Glasgow March 1971”, the poet creates a particularly vivid description of a violent incident. One of the most powerful ways he does this is by describing the injuries to the victims: Realistic Violence/ Imagery “The young man’s face is bristling with fragments of glass” Morgan uses a metaphor to create a disturbing picture of the young man’s face. The shards of glass seem to make a beard, there are so many. This is effective because it shows us how many pieces are embedded, and how badly he will be scarred. Perhaps this is also symbolic of how this incident will change the young man and make him feel older/sadder. This is a very realistic scene, and this horrible image is one of the ways the scene is made vivid and memorable. Morgan makes the scene seem realistic by using everyday, familiar characters who readers can recognise and identify with. For example, those attacked in the poem are described as “a young man and his girl”. The word “young” has connotations of innocence, and when combined with “diamond” suggests a couple perhaps out buying an engagement ring. Perhaps the most dramatic image is of the young girl’s leg which is “caught” on the glass and “spurts arterial blood” over her “white wet look coat”. This tells us the girl’s life is at risk and she needs urgent first aid attention. The bright red blood running down the fashionable white coat is symbolic of the girl’s innocence and youth being soiled. Even if she survives she will be mentally scared by the prospect of unprovoked violence creeping up on her and if she dies her boyfriend and family will suffer the consequences of guilt and grief for a very long time. The reader feels sympathy with these characters and anger towards the two “youths” who carry out the attack. They are described as showing “no expression”. This makes them seem callous and inhuman, like robots who are programmed to “complete their operation” or military plan. They do not feel any emotion towards their victims. The word “operation” is also a pun on the cuts they have caused their victims and the fact that the girl will need life-saving surgery. This makes me think that these callous looters are also very damaged. Perhaps they have had an abusive childhood or poverty or drugs have dulled their emotions and turned them to crime. Perhaps Morgan is also suggesting that they, too, need our help. The clear and realistic presentation of victims and villains in the poem is one of the ways it is so striking and thought-provoking. Finally, Morgan’s underlying message in the poem makes us think about our own role in the violence. The closing lines introduce this theme: “In the background two drivers keep their eyes on the road.” Morgan is suggesting that although there were witnesses, no one is stopping to help. This is perhaps a biblical allusion to the Good Samaritan without the happy ending. Here there is no Good Samaritan: the two drivers do not intervene, they just keep living their own lives. I think Morgan is attacking apathy and trying to urge us to get involved and to help. The drivers could Everyday Characters Underlying Message represent the relatively rich who are insulated from street crime by their jobs and cars. Yet, even Morgan, in writing the poem, plays the role of voyeur. He too is watching and recording, rather than helping. This hypocritical perspective is yet another way that this poem is so vivid and powerful. Therefore, in conclusion, I have established that “Glasgow 5th March, 1971” is a poem which brings an incident vividly and memorably to life, through the attention-grabbing opening, effective imagery, realistic descriptions of violence and characters, and a clear message. I found “Glasgow 5 March 1971” thought-provoking as it made me I could understand and identify with the characters, the setting and the themes of street violence. All this adds up to Morgan’s message that modern cities have become anonymous places where there is little community and individualism has replaced the helping hand of community. The drivers ignoring the girl’s plight show that they are self obsessed and getting home after a hard day’s work is more important that stopping to save a life. This is a sad state of affairs. I think Morgan also wants the reader to wonder at how the criminals can be so lacking in emotion. What made them that way and what will stop them creating more misery? Above all I think Morgan is saying if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. One day the drivers may become victims and they will surely want someone to come to their aid. Morgan’s “Glasgow 5 March 1971” highlights that evil happens when good people do nothing. This vividly memorable poem has made me more aware about how we should all be more responsible for the well being of each other. Conclusion including Personal Opinions.