Edwin Morgan: Messages and Transformations

  • Roderick Watson


Edwin Morgan is an extremely various poet. His work takes many different directions in subject-matter, style and perceived ‘seriousness’. Having written sonnets about spaceships, and concrete poems about Shakespeare, he might seem to specialise in unlikely juxtapositions, not least in the witty title of one of his best known collections: From Glasgow to Saturn. Some readers have been positively disconcerted by the element of play in Morgan’s work, and others by its sheer variety. The poet knows this:

I think people like to have a thematic centre, like to know where they are. They feel more comfortable if they know what is central to any poet they’re reading or thinking about. But I would like to defend what I do … I have always had the sense that I should do different things, both in subject and in form … The very fact that one person is responsible for all these poems means that there’s some sort of unity about them.1


Science Fiction Sexual Ambivalence Page Reference Idiom Meaning Semantic Sequence 
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  1. 1.
    S. Andrews, ‘Interview with Edwin Morgan’, Stirling University student newspaper, Brig, October 1977.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See Morgan’s comment on ‘randomness’ in an interview with R. Crawford in C. Whyte (ed.), Edwin Morgan. Nothing Not Giving Messages (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990), p. 135.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    F. Morgan, Poems of Thirty Years (Manchester: Carcanet, 1982), p. 263. Hereafter referred to in the text as Poems with the page reference.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    E. Morgan, ‘Introduction to Wi the haill Voice’, Essays (Manchester: Carcanet, 1974), pp. 62–4. See also his comments on Gomringer’s hopes for concrete verse as ‘a universal common language’, in ‘Into the Constellation: Some Thoughts on the Origin and Nature of Concrete Poetry’, ibid., pp. 27–34.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Compare his comment that ‘my own main interest as a poet is bound to centre on Scotland, and from there it will veer towards Voznesensky or Weores or Creeley or Gomringer just as often as to any poet living in the south of England.’ E. Morgan, ‘The State of Poetry — A Symposium’, The Review, Vol. 29–30, Spring-Summer 1972, p. 54.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    E. Morgan, Instamatic Poems (London: Ian McKelvie, 1972), p. 21. Hereafter referred to in the text as Instamatic Poems with the page reference.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    E. Morgan, ‘20’, Themes on a Variation (Manchester: Carcanet, 1988), p. 131. Hereafter referred to as Themes with the page reference.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    W. Wordsworth, Preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads (1800–02).Google Scholar

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© The Editorial Board, Lumiere (Co-operative) Press Ltd 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roderick Watson

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