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In The Snack Bar Poem Essay Example

Poet Edwin Morgan

Much of Morgan’s work was inspired by ordinary people and places and in this poem, Morgan uses his acute skills of observation to describe the plight of a blind, infirm elderly man to make a social comment about how we treat others less fortunate than ourselves.

The poem begins with a description of a cup tumbling over in a café and ends with the speaker’s reflections upon the blind man’s predicament.

The speaker forces us to consider the reality and hardship of such an existence, as well as confronting our own attitudes towards the vulnerable in society.

This is an uncomfortable poem evoking a range of emotions beginning with revulsion, then pity and embarrassment before ending on a note of utter despair and anguish.

Form and structure

The poem is written in free verse and divided into three stanzas. Using the present tense creates a sense of immediacy and allows the reader to more effectively share this experience. In the opening stanza the speaker vividly describes the blind man, the subject of the poem.

Stanza two focuses on the ordeal of helping the man go to the toilet while in the third stanza the speaker reflects on this experience.

The use of free verse and the narrative stance creates a natural, unrestricted style and allows the reader to witness the gradual shift in the speaker’s emotions as he slowly changes his perceptions of the old man.

The imagery and repetition employed throughout this poem is incredibly powerful, evoking first pity and then compassion for the hardships and humiliations the old man is forced to endure on a daily basis, as well as admiration for his tenacity.

Edwin Morgan is one of Scotland’s most distinguished and popular poets. His celebration of his native city brought him the honour of Glasgow Poet Laureate, and in 2004 the Scottish Executive recognised him officially as Scotland’s first modern national poet, with the title of Scots Makar.

The poetry of Edwin Morgan is varied and original, filling a series of volumes spread over more than fifty years. This collection focuses on two contrasting sides of Morgan’s work: poems centred on the life of his home city of Glasgow, and the poetry coming out of his fascination with space and science.

Each poem here is read by Edwin Morgan himself, followed by informed and accessible commentary by Professor Roderick Watson of the University of Stirling.

This CD is an excellent tool for classroom study, as well as giving users a chance to hear some of Scotland’s best-loved poems read by the author himself.



Also available: 23 Poems of Edwin Morgan


Also available: SCOTNOTES study guide


Last updated 25 July 2013

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