'Glasgow, 5th March, 1971', by Edwin Morgan, is a modern poem about a shocking crime committed upon 'a young man and his girl' by 'two youths' and witnessed by two expressionless drivers who pass by without turning a hair.
The first way in which this poem effectively conveys the incident is the form it takes: very unemotional, clear and 'formal' - almost like a police report. This feeling is emphasized in the title, which is simply a place and date. The title does two things: in the first place it implies some kind of record, not a poem; secondly, it is almost like the first line of the poem and sets the scene so we can vividly imagine the actions that follow.
Nowhere in the text does Morgan use poetic or emotive language but even though no emotion is implied in the way that it is written, it evokes strong emotions when read. The poem is laid out very realistically with no hint of omniscience from the author as everything depicted could have been watched sequentially from the same spot. No names are given; just rough descriptions of the different 'characters' involved because who they are is not important - just the part they play in the overall scene. This adds to the feel that it is nothing but a record of some kind.
Most of the poem is spent upon the two young people because if we had been watching they would have been the main object of our attention and the first thing we saw. We do not see the crime from the very beginning but from after the glass smashes because we, like the narrator, would probably have turned on hearing the breaking of glass to see the scene described. I imagined these young people perhaps planning a wedding or choosing rings as they wandered through Sauchiehall Street, unsuspecting of the danger that awaited them outside the jeweller's shop. Here, Edwin Morgan makes excellent use of imagery and exceptional word choice. Our attention is caught by the words:
'With a ragged diamond
of shattered plate glass'
This is a good phrase to...