Trio by Edwin Morgan

Categories: Poetry

Edwin Morgan’s poem ‘trio’ is about a moment where Morgan saw a man and two girls walking in Glasgow, down Buchanan Street in the cold at Christmas time. In the poem Morgan uses different poetic techniques like his specific word choice clever punctuation to show his emotions about this moment and how memorable it was. He also uses techniques like figurative language, not just to tell us about his experience but to also explain a deeper comment about life which is that no matter how bad things get you can always find a moment of clarity and peace and that the happiness makes all our troubles no longer frightening.

In the poem ‘trio’ Edwin Morgan also uses repetition and allusion to show us how memorable and meaningful this experience was to him. The unusual punctuation used in this poem helps to show how brief this moment was. This helps to emphasise how much of an impact this has made on him and how it has inspired him to write a poem about it.

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It shows that this was more than an everyday occurrence as there are many more emotions he has felt. The majority of the poem is enclosed as a parenthesis between ‘under the Christmas lights –‘ and ‘-and the three has passed’.

Another clever use of punctuation Morgan has used is the brackets around ‘(and the three have passed, vanished in the crowd, for in their arms they wind the life of men and beasts, and music, the laughter ringing round them like a guard)’ the brackets are the guard of laughter protecting them.

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Nothing bad can get to them as their happiness is protection. Morgan also uses allusion to show the other thoughts he had at that moment and the extreme emotions he felt due to his experience.

In the poem it says ‘whether Christ is born’ using Christ alludes to Christmas and the time of year that this is happening, this time of year is joyful and happy which are both emotions that Edwin Morgan had felt. In ‘trio’ Morgan also uses the adjective ‘orphean’ to describe a sprig of mistletoe. Using this word leads you to allude to the story of Orpheus giving you emotions such as bravery, courage and hope which are all positive emotions, contributing to make the overall mood of the poem extremely positive.

Another effective poetic technique is the figurative language Morgan uses to make the poem more vivid and make it unforgettable to the reader as it was unforgettable to him. A very memorable metaphor used is ‘their breath rises in a cloud of happiness’ it gives the sense that the love and happiness of the three is spreading to the people around them, including Edwin Morgan. Another striking metaphor used is ‘the vale of tears is powerless before you’ the tears are a sign of extreme happiness and that it is infections as you are ‘powerless’ to it.

Another good smile used by Edwin Morgan is ‘royal Stewart tartan coat like a teapot holder’. When this simile was used he was talking about the small coat around the Chihuahua the one of the young girls in carrying. The simile represents the coats shape, size and function, as its function is to keep the small dog warm and content. In ‘Trio’ Edwin Morgan choses words specially to show the effect this event has had on him, also to show us what he has thought about during this meeting and that it has meant more to him than any other daily encounter. Morgan repeats the word ‘laughing’ in his poem as it is a positive word and that is how the young man and 2 girls are feeling, as well as him.

The very first word in the poem is ‘coming’ as they are ‘coming up Buchanan Street’. Using this real life location and a present tense verb immediately gives the reader a lasting effect of the encounter. Morgan uses the word ‘sharp’ to describe the winters evening this occurrence happened on which is unusual as it is a contrast to the overall warm attitude of the poem. At the very end of the poem it says ‘at the end of this winter’s day’ this finishes the idea started at the beginning of the poem and that it doesn’t feel so cold anymore.

The tone of the poem is joyful and optimistic partly due to specific words Edwin Morgan has chosen. Edwin Morgan uses repetition in this poem to make repeated parts stand out as memorable and important. Using repetition also emphasises his opinion of how special this occasion was. Morgan repeats the phrase ‘under the Christmas lights’ later in the poem, doing this brings us back to the start of the poem where it is first said and it reminds us of the uplifting spirit of the young people. He also repeats the word ‘vanished’ which gives emphases on the idea of how extremely brief the experience was, lifting the mood of the reader.

Morgan also repeats ‘and the three’ drawing attention to the fact that there is three of them like the wise men in the nativity who came baring gifts. This is another thing that contributes to the joyful feeling of the poem. Edwin Morgan uses all of these effective poetic techniques to give the reader a better understanding of how Morgan felt at that moment when he saw the young man and two girls was down the street towards him.

The poetic techniques also help to show us how memorable this experience was to him because people may think it was just an ordinary experience but the way Edwin Morgan explains this occurrence to us leads us to understand his deeper comment about life. That happiness and positive emotions with always overcome negative ones and that happiness will protect you from evil.

Cite this page

Trio by Edwin Morgan. (2016, Apr 23). Retrieved from

Trio by Edwin Morgan

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