Edwin Morgan

(27 April 1920 – 17 August 2010 / Glasgow / Scotland)

Seven Decades


At ten I read Mayakovsky had died,
learned my first word of Russian, lyublyu;
watched my English teacher poke his earwax
with a well-chewed HB and get the class
to join his easy mocking of my essay
where I'd used verdant herbage for green grass.
So he was right? So I hated him!
And he was not really right, the ass.
A writer knows what he needs,
as came to pass.

At twenty I got marching orders, kitbag,
farewell to love, not arms, (though our sole arms
were stretchers), a freezing Glentress winter
where I was coaxing sticks at six to get
a stove hot for the cooks, found myself picked
quartermaster's clerk – 'this one seems a bit
less gormless than the bloody others' – did
gas drill in the stinging tent, met
Tam McSherry who farted at will
a musical set.

At thirty I thought life had passed me by,
translated Beowulf for want of love.
And one night stands in city centre lanes –
they were dark in those days – were wild but bleak.
Sydney Graham in London said, 'you know
I always thought so', kissed me on the cheek.
And I translated Rilke's Loneliness
is like a rain, and week after week after week
strained to unbind myself,
sweated to speak.

At forty I woke up, saw it was day,
found there was love, heard a new beat, heard Beats,
sent airmail solidarity to Saõ
Paulo's poetic-concrete revolution,
knew Glasgow – what? – knew Glasgow new – somehow –
new with me, with John, with cranes, diffusion
of another concrete revolution, not bad,
not good, but new. And new was no illusion:
a spring of words, a sloughing,
an ablution.

At fifty I began to have bad dreams
of Palestine, and saw bad things to come,
began to write my long unwritten war.
I was a hundred-handed Sindbad then,
rolled and unrolled carpets of blood and love,
raised tents of pain, made the dust into men
and laid the dust with men. I supervised
a thesis on Doughty, that great Englishman
who brought all Arabia back
in his hard pen.

At sixty I was standing by a grave.
The winds of Lanarkshire were loud and high.
I knew what I had lost, what I had had.
The East had schooled me about fate, but still
it was the hardest time, oh more, it was
the worst of times in self-reproach, the will
that failed to act, the mass of good not done.
Forgiveness must be like the springs that fill
deserted furrows till they wait
until – until –

At seventy I thought I had come through,
like parting a bead curtain in Port Said,
to something that was shadowy before,
figures and voices of late times that might
be surprising yet. The beads clash faintly
behind me as I go forward. No candle-light
please, keep that for Europe. Switch the whole thing
right on. When I go in I want it bright,
I want to catch whatever is there
in full sight.

Submitted: Monday, May 16, 2011

Form:


Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Seven Decades by Edwin Morgan )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
  2. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  5. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  6. If, Rudyard Kipling
  7. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  9. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  10. Tonight I can write the saddest lines, Pablo Neruda

Poem of the Day

poet Oliver Wendell Holmes

WHAT flower is this that greets the morn,
Its hues from Heaven so freshly born?
With burning star and flaming band
It kindles all the sunset land:
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. VIRTUAL POET FRIENDS, Philo Yan
  2. The Imponderable, Sandra Feldman
  3. Arousal Of Energy, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  4. Being Welcomed, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  5. Appreciating Cultures, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  6. What A Blessing, Shalom Freedman
  7. Within India's Veins, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  8. mountains- My fantasy world, tulip mayer
  9. What Lies Still, Joshua Hillard
  10. Do you Know Me? ? ? ? ?, William Lindenmuth
[Hata Bildir]