Image by Norman McBeath

Edwin Morgan

b. 1920 d. 2010

the most dynamic, brilliant, free-wheeling poet around, endlessly accessible and inventive - The Scotsman

The Video Box: No. 25

Edwin Morgan

The Loch Ness Monster's Song

Edwin Morgan

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About Edwin Morgan

Edwin Morgan (1920 - 2010) was born and educated in Glasgow, where he returned to lecture in English Literature at Glasgow University after a period in the army. He was the author of many books, including poetry, criticism, essays, translations, plays and works of concrete poetry, for which he received awards including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and the Weidenfeld Prize for Translation; in addition to having been both Glasgow's Poet Laureate and Scotland's Makar, he was invited to write a poem to open the Scottish Parliament. Glasgow infuses his poetry, not restrictively, but as a fixed star that the poetry can navigate by, as seen in one of his titles, From Glasgow to Saturn.

A quick poet in many ways, Morgan is alive to the possibilities of life, and keen to celebrate them. The eponymous 'Strawberries', for example, begin a poem that goes on to rejoice in a love expressed in strawberry-flavoured kisses and the plate-cleansing thunderstorm; 'The Apple’s Song' is the call of a fruit that rejoices in the idea of being peeled and eaten. He has also a quick intelligence, of the kind that can whisk an argument along in imagistic leaps, such as the disconnected moments linked by the juggling and the juggler of 'Cinquevalli', and he shows a quicksilver mischief in his presentation of 'The Loch Ness Monster's Song'.

Morgan is also a fast reader, but it is this proof of his quickness that encourages attention and interest, and is always clear. His interest in theatre means he is able to bring out the dramatic structure present in some of his poems in his performance; the two voices in dialogue in 'The First Men on Mercury' are obviously different, but as their languages blend we become aware of their sameness too, with exactly the same kind of unease as the poem creates on the page. The Scotsman's description of him as "the most dynamic, brilliant, free-wheeling poet around, endlessly accessible and inventive" is accurate, and exactly what is to be found in this recording.

On his death in 2010, the U.K. Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, said that "a great, generous, gentle genius has gone. He is quite simply irreplaceable."

His recording was made on 5 June 2000 at his home in Glasgow and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Edwin Morgan's Favourite Poetry Saying:

"Poets are the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present." - P.B. Shelley

The Scottish Poetry Library has published its Edwin Morgan Archive online. It contains a variety of resources for teachers, and readers:

Additional material and useful links

Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition 2011

The prizewinners in the fourth Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition were announced at a ceremony at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Wednesday, August 17. The ceremony was held...

The First Men on Mercury

A delightful comic-strip adaptation of Edwin Morgan's "The First Men on Mercury", created for the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. It has been distributed to secondary school...


2000 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
2001 Weidenfeld Translation Prize

Selected bibliography

The Play of Gilgamesh, Carcanet 2005


A Book of Lives, Carcanet Press 2007


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Rillie, Enitharmon Press 2006


Tales from Baron Munchausen, Mariscat Press 2005


Love and a Life, Mariscat Press 2003


Racine's Phèdre (translator), Carcanet 2000


Demon, Mariscat Press 1999


Virtual and Other Realities, Carcanet 1997


Collected Translations, Carcanet 1996


Sweeping out the Dark, Carcanet 1994 - out of print

Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (translator), Carcanet 1992


Hold Hands among the Atoms, Mariscat Press 1991

Tales from Limerick Zoo, Mariscat Press 1988 - out of...

Themes on a Variation, Carcanet 1988 - out of print

Newspoems, WACY! 1987 - out of print

From the Video Box, Mariscat Press 1986 - out of print

Selected Poems, Carcanet 1985


Sonnets from Scotland, Mariscat Press 1984 - out of print

Poems of Thirty Years, Carcanet 1982 - out of print

Star Gate, Third Eye Centre 1979 - out of print

Colour Poems, Third Eye Centre 1978 - out of print

The New Divan, Carcanet 1977 - out of print

From Glasgow to Saturn, Carcanet 1973 - out of print

The Whittrick, Akros Publications 1973 - out of print

Instamatic Poems, Ian McKelvie 1972 - out of print

Glasgow Sonnets, Castlelaw Press 1972 - out of print

The Horseman's Word, Akros Publications 1970 - out of...

Proverbfolder, Openings Press 1969 - out of print

The Second Life, Edinburgh University Press 1968 - out...

Gnomes, Akros Publications 1968 - out of print

Emergent Poems, Edition Hansjörg Mayer 1967 - out of...

Starryveldt, Eugen Gomringer Press 1965 - out of print

The Cape of Good Hope, Peter Russell, The Pound Press...

Beowulf, Carcanet Press Ltd, 2002

The Vision of Cathkin Braes, William MacLellan 1952 -...

Cathures, Carcanet / Mariscat Press, 2002


New Selected Poems, Carcanet 2000


Collected Poems, Carcanet 1990


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Jean Sprackland's tour

There are so many good poems in the Children's Archive, it's hard to know where to start! I'd like to share with you...

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