Glasgow 5th March, 1971
By Edwin Morgan
• 7 sentences which are statements of fact
• no rhyme
• no rhythm
• no stanzas
• newspaper column layout
• objective and prosaic style
• present tense throughout - sense of
Why did Morgan choose this structure / style for
The impact of this poem arises from the contrast
between form and content.
Form: clinical, objective, matter-of-fact statements
Content: shocking, sickening events
The theme : modern society has seen a decline in
morality, community and concern for others. Morgan
criticizes the reluctance of the public to get involved.
Morgan’s unemotional style mirrors our sense of
detachment when faced with horrific events.
1. With a ragged diamond wc / oxymoron
of shattered plate glass onomatopoeia
a young man and his girl
are falling backwards into a shop window. present tense
• 1. “ragged diamond” is an oxymoron suggesting the
clarity and sharp edges of the glass, but also the danger
presented by the rough shards. The word “diamond”
has connotations of engagement. Is it a jeweller’s
• 2. Shattered (onomatopoeia) + “plate”(toughened
glass) suggests the force of impact. There are
connotations of shattered hopes.
• 4. Use of present tense creates a sense of immediacy
5. The young man’s face metaphor
onomatopoeia is bristling with fragments of glass
and the girl’s leg has caught Word choice
on the broken window
and spurts arterial blood
10. over her wet-look white coat.
• 5. The man appears to have a metaphorical beard of glass,
suggests by the words “bristling” (onomatopoeia) and
• 7. “caught” is not a shocking word, but in the context it carries
the horrific image of a girl’s flesh ripped on a shard of
glass so that she is suspended from it.
• 8. “arterial” suggests the force and volume of blood - a serious
• 10. the link to the white coat makes the horror more vivid and
has connotations of doctors
Their arms are starfished out metaphor
braced for impact,
repetition their faces show surprise, shock
and the beginning of pain. Word choice
• 11. The metaphor illustrates the young people,
limbs flung in all directions, entering the window. The
comparison suggests the vulnerability of their bodies
and highlights the instamatic nature of the poem
• 13. This line is repeated later to highlight a contrast
between victims and attackers.
• 14. The word “beginning” suggests that there will be
much more pain to come later.
15. The two youths who have pushed them
are about to complete the operation Word choice
reaching into the window
to loot what they can smartly. Word choice
repetition Their faces show no expression.
• 16. The word “operation” means , in this context, a well executed
plan. The connotations are of a medical operation, which the
victims will probably need.
• 18. “loot” is a comical word for the proceeds of the robbery
giving the impression that the thieves do not take their actions
• “smartly” has connotations of being clever, quick, but also it
suggests the idea of pain again
• 19. Repeats the idea of facial expressions and shows the robbers to
be callous and indifferent
20. It is a sharp, clear night Word choice
in Sauchiehall Street. Sense of place, realism
In the background two drivers Theme summed
keep their eyes on the road. up
• 20. Sharp and clear may describe the coldness in the air or the
fact that the drivers could see clearly, but chose not to look. They
certainly relate back to the broken glass “ragged diamond” of the
• 22-23 Sum up the poet’s theme. The indifference of the drivers
possibly has the most impact on the reader. Where is the good
Samaritan in this scenario. Why are we so indifferent, so
reluctant to get involved and what will become of society if we
turn our back on our fellow man?
Task: Choose a poem in which language is used to create impact.
Explain in some detail how the poet uses language in order to deliver
the theme or message.
In your answer you should refer to at least two of: theme, word choice,
imagery, irony or any other appropriate feature.
Writing an introduction:
title, poet, ,brief idea of theme and reference to task.
“Glasgow 5th March, 1971” by Edwin Morgan is a poem which
has a strong impact on the reader. The poet uses structure and
language effectively to describe an incident where a man and
woman are used as human bricks by thieves stealing from a store.
The poet cleverly creates a contrast between style and ideas in
order to create impact. Morgan criticizes public indifference to
the plight of others and assesses the decline of morals in society.
Every paragraph / section should begin with a topic sentence
binding your writing to the task and end with a summary, again
relating to the task in hand.
The objective style and structure of Morgan’s poem is
highly effective in conveying his theme of society’s
indifference. The poem is prosaic in style and there is no
rhythm or rhyme pattern. It contains seven sentences each of
which is a simple statement describing the event. The
structure of the poem - a single stanza- resembles a
newspaper column and the use of the present tense creates
the immediacy of an instamatic moment. Morgan perceives
that the public is growing immune to the brutality of of this
type of crime and reflects this in his matter-of-fact,
In addition to his unemotional vocabulary, Morgan’s use of
imagery effectively recreates the appalling, bloody scene,
while making us reflect on a society that uses people as
human bricks. A metaphor is used effectively to describe
the injuries to the man’s face, which is “bristling with
fragments of glass.” This gives the impression of a
metaphorical beard of painful fragments