This is an essay that I wrote and got given back recently. I have just finished trying to redraft it to get a better mark - this was originally a 16 again!
Choose a poem which has a strong emotional impact.
Show how the poet’s ideas and language combine to have this effect.
In your answer you must refer closely to the text and to at least two of: ideas, imagery, mood, structure or any other appropriate feature.
“Trio” by Edwin Morgan is a poem which is based on a very brief incident witnessed by the poet at Christmas time. When a young man and two girls are seen “coming up Buchanan Street, quickly,” the poet is instantly infected by the love and warmth shared by the trio and the use of the present tense creates a sense of reality. Through the poet’s language and ideas a strong emotional impact can be felt of love and happiness.
The energy and enthusiasm of the trio is immediately shown at the beginning of the poem by the parenthesis of “,quickly,” and the youth of the “young man” and the “girls” adds to their obvious energy. A contrast can be seen between the happiness of the trio and the “sharp winter evening” which causes the reader to begin to feel the warmth of the group and perhaps even be infected by it. Through the trio’s obviously close relationship and from giving (they are bearing gifts) joy emerges and the religious side of Christmas is represented as being irrelevant. The imagery of the trio “under the Christmas lights” allows us to consider that this could represent the star of Bethlehem and that the trio could be the three wise men bearing gifts. It is ironic that Morgan conveys his belief that the Christmas story is just a story using this imagery and it is also ironic that Morgan believes in celebrating the commercial side of Christmas. The poet uses an analogy to further make the reader consider the love of the trio as being superior to the love brought by the birth of Jesus. When the poet passes the trio their warmth infects him as “their breath rises in a cloud of happiness”. While their breath is literally visible, metaphorically their warmth is also visible to Morgan who instantly feels infected by their love as they pass. At this point of the poem readers are already left feeling a strong, emotional impact of love and happiness.
When the young man declares: “Wait till he sees this but!” his character is brought to life and readers immediately realise that as this is a feature of the Glasgow dialect, the trio are a representation of those who could experience economic constraints and have a desire to make Christmas special despite this. This is yet another sign of the love the trio feel for each other as it shows just how hard much they will risk to make each other happy.
The love the trio share is further shown using figurative language. The Royal Stewart tartan coat the trio’s Chihuahua wears “like a teapot holder” is ironic as the dog is wearing the tartan of kings but this also shows that the trio greatly care for their pet. Also the simile “like a teapot” suggests warmth expressed by the group and the “mouth like favours” embodies the trio’s love as favours are given to close relatives as a token of love. This reinforces the strong emotional impact of love. This can further be seen through the personification of the guitar which “swells out” – this shows the pride the young man feels as this is perhaps going to make someone happy as a clearly special gift. It is tied with “a brisk sprig of mistletoe” to symbolise love and is being protected and nurtured with love by a “milky plastic cover”. The poet further displays the overflowing love displayed by the trio by the use of enjambment, which is used throughout the poem. Morgan makes the reader aware of the idea of God’s love as being fictional and the trio’s love as being tangible and meaningful through this use of enjambment.
In the next section of the poem there is a clear change of register which reinforces the inferiority that the love brought by the birth of Jesus has compared to the superior love of the trio. There is a real sense of irony in this part of the poem as Edwin Morgan uses a religious tone, “Orphean sprig! Melting baby! Warm Chihuahua”, to display that his beliefs lie with the commercial side of Christmas. Morgan reinforces how potent human love is when he describes “the vale of tears” which “is powerless before you” to express his view of how significant he feels the trio’s love for each other is. Ultimately, the poet feels that human love can conquer all and the trio have helped him to realise this. Morgan shows human love as more significant than the love brought by Jesus’ birth at this point to continue the strong impact of love in the poem. “Whether Christ is born, or is not born, you put paid to fate” shows how strongly Morgan feels over the superiority that human love has over religious faith. This section of the poem conveys that fate is being chased off by the power of the secular which is represented by the placement of “under the Christmas lights.”
The sheer strength of the trio’s love is shown as negative aspects and the “Monsters of the year go blank” and lose their ability to frighten the trio as they are defeated by the trio’s love at Christmas time. The group and their “march of three” are clearly entering the New Year with new hope and pride as they felt that their love is indestructible.
The final verse starts with a dash to close the parenthesis opened at the end of the second line. This is used to emphasise just how brief this interlude has been. However, brief as this experience was, Morgan has been greatly uplifted by the trio’s love. The parenthesis Morgan uses in the final verse is represented using brackets to insulate and protect the words. This is created to show that the poet has been embraced by the trio’s warmth. The repetition of “vanished” supports this idea by showing that although the group have been lost in the crowd, their spirit will remain with Morgan. The “laughter ringing them round” shows an outward sign of happiness and the ring is used to symbolise love.
“At the end of this winter’s day” Morgan is simply left to reflect on what he has witnessed and it can be seen that his spirits have been raised as a result of the obvious display of love he has seen. Some may claim that Edwin Morgan presents an over-romantic view in “Trio”, but there is no doubt that this, although somewhat brief, interlude has had a strong emotional impact on both the poet and the readers.