The poem “In the Snack Bar” by Edwin Morgan is, in my opinion, a great poem.
It tells about the disaster of a blind old man spilling his coffee and then having to announce his need of having to go to the toilet to the public in the hope that someone will find it in their heart to help him. In this I will point out the literary techniques that Morgan uses that make it a great poem.
In the poem I think Morgan’s word choice is excellent. He turns what most people would simply class as an everyday occurrence into a catastrophe not just saying that the man spilt his coffee. Instead he says
“the cup capsizes along the formica”
and the cup didn’t fall to the floor and smash it
“slithered to the floor with a dull clatter”
I think both of these expressions convey a great feeling of disaster due to the unusual word choice and also draw to our attention that the man spilling his coffee is an important part of the poem and this made it a great poem.
Another important part of this poem is the way in which he describes the blind man’s appearance. He describes by, for example, personifying the hump on the man’s back by saying that it “looms” over him which gives the impression that his hump is almost controlling him. He also contrasts the man “shambling uncouth” to the “clinical gleam” of the toilet and says
“his brooding reflection darkens the mirror”
One simile he uses is saying the old man is
“like a monstrous animal caught in a tent”.
All this will encourage the reader to think of the man in a negative way. This will make most readers feel pity for the man which is another way in which Morgan has made it a great poem.
When the poor man finds someone to help him down to the toilet the reader uses many different techniques to show how what would be a simple motion for a healthy person is an arduous task for him. On the man’s journey Morgan writes about the different sounds happening around him. He uses personification to show that these sounds may be scary to someone who cannot see from where they are coming. For example he refers to the “roar” of the hand drier and the “hiss” from the coffee machine. We can see how he could find these sounds scary as we would usually relate these sounds to being the call of a dangerous animal. These sounds are also examples of onomatopoeia which adds more life and depth to the snack bar for the reader. All this, again, adds weight to the argument that this is a great poem.
Morgan also puts the most important things about the man’s action onto a line by itself for example “he stands” or “and speaks”. This gives us the feeling that the fact that these were given a line to themselves they must be very important and quite an achievement considering the appearance of the man.
The man is eventually helped down the stairs to the toilet by another man. On the journey back up Morgan uses a lot of repetition to express the difficulty and effort put into going back up the stairs. One extract which promotes this idea is
“He climbs, and steadily enough.
He climbs, we climb. He climbs.”
and another is
“And slowly we go up. And slowly we go up”
In both of these we have repetition with frequent punctuation to show it was very stop-start. They both also promote how tedious and hard it was for both the man and his guide. This gave me more of an insight into what it must be like for the man, having to use so much energy and effort into climbing stairs is so the repetition there is another way in which Morgan has made it a great poem.
The last stanza brings into question whether or not this man should in fact be alive. It tells us how his live depends on a lot of people who would rather not be in contact with him. The last line is the rounding up of the whole poem.
“Dear Christ, to be born for this!”
This is the line that makes us ask ourselves, if we were in the same state as the man, would we really want to be alive. This, I thought was a fantastic way to end a poem as it could leave the reader thinking for a long time. This makes it a great poem.
Overall I enjoyed this poem a lot. The first time I read it I thought the topic the poet had chosen was quite disgusting but on closer inspection I realised Morgan had brought up several important and meaningful issues. It also made me change my ways as before I read this poem I would not have been the one to stand up and help the man but I now feel that I could and if the situation arose I would. All of these techniques and issues all come together to create not just a good poem, but a great poem.
Cite this essay
The Poem “In the Snack Bar” by Edwin Morgan. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-poem-in-the-snack-bar-by-edwin-morgan-essay