Edwin Morgan: Good Friday

I’ve made known my admiration for Edwin Morgan’s work in the past. The great thing about a great poet is that no matter how many examples of amazing poems I share, there are also more that I haven’t shared. In fact, I could probably do an entire National Poetry Month solely with Morgan’s poems. Seeing as there are far too many other poems that are also amazing, I’ll leave you with this one instead.

Good Friday

Three o’clock. The bus lurches
 round into the sun. ‘D’s this go –‘
 he flops beside me – 'right along Bath Street?
 - Oh tha's, tha's all right, see I've
 got to get some Easter eggs for the kiddies.
 I’ve had a wee drink, ye understand –
 ye’ll maybe think it’s a – funny day
 to be celebrating – well, no, but ye see
 I wasny working, and I like to celebrate
 when I’m no working – I don’t say it’s right
 I'm no saying it's right, ye understand - ye understand?
 But anyway tha’s the way I look at it –
 I’m no boring you, eh? – ye see today,
 take today, I don’t know what today’s in aid of,
 whether Christ was – crucified or was he –
 rose fae the dead like, see what I mean?
 You’re an educatit man, you can tell me –
 - Aye, well. There ye are. It’s been seen
 time and again, the working man
 has nae education, he jist canny – jist
 hasny got it, know what I mean,
 he’s jist bliddy ignorant – Christ aye,
 bliddy ignorant. Well –' The bus brakes violently,
 he lunges for the stair, swings down – off,
 into the sun for his Easter eggs,
 on very
       nearly
            steady
                 legs.

“Good Friday” is a great example of a lot of Morgan’s strengths as a poet. There is the pitch-perfect voice of the drunk man, a real sense of person and place, and a mastery of the language (the man “swings down…into the sun…”). There is even a little bit of the concrete there at the end as the last three lines mirror the walk of the drunk man.

Morgan had a complicated relationship with religion (as seen in part in “Message Clear”) and “Good Friday” certainly has a sense of this throughout. From the apparent irony of the day’s name to the drunk man’s confusion as to the actual event that was to have taken place.

Beyond the technical aspects or the religious allusions, there is a well crafted character study of a man doing as well as he knows in a world that would otherwise pay him no mind.

Want to see the other poems I have (and will) post? Check out the regularly updated original National Poetry Month post!

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