In this essay I will show how Edwin Morgan uses different poetic techniques to highlight central themes in the poem. The poem is about a slightly drunk working class man Morgan encounters on a public bus in Glasgow at Easter. One of the main themes with features in this poem is religion, in particular about how society is becoming more secular. The title ‘ Good Friday’ immediately refers to the date Jesus was crucified, bringing religion into the poem from the start. Also, ‘ 3 o’clock’ is the time Jesus is thought to have died, another biblical reference.
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The fact that the man is going to get ‘ Some Easter eggs for the kiddies’, but isn’t really sure at all about the relevance of them to the holiday he is celebrating, shows that they have no real relevance to him even though he is spendingmoneyon them, though to Christians, they symbolise the stone covering the tomb where Christ was buried. It shows how religion has faded, and businesses commercialise these holidays for profit. Another key theme in the poem is social-class; in particular how the fact that this man is working class affects the way he treats the holidays.
The man explains ‘ I’ve had a wee drink’, but the way he ‘ flops’ into the seat suggests differently. He must have seen a difference between himself and Morgan because he feels the need to explain ashamedly, almost, ‘ I like to celebrate when I’m no working’, and the way his speech is broken up suggests embarrassment, ‘ I don’t say it’s right -I’m no saying it’s right – ye understand – ye understand? ’ The repetition of the question shows he feels pressurized; he doesn’t want to be judged, and it shows an eagerness to be approved.
It shows that even by appearances he can see the line between himself and Morgan, and in saying ‘ You’re an educatit man,’ he is sort of putting himself down, sounding as though he thinks he is below Morgan. He gives off the impression of being slightly angry, and emotional, when he says ‘ Its been seen time and time again, the working man has naeeducation’. He describes himself as ‘ bliddy ignorant’. His emotional, chatty persona may partly be because of the ‘ wee drink’ he has had, the aftermath has left him feeling slightly depressed.
The Scottish dialect that Morgan uses for the drunken man also give the poem a sense of place, the ‘ fae’, ‘ aye’, and ‘ wasny’, all give the impression a Glaswegian man, as well as the poor sentence structure, ‘ rose fae the dead like, see what I mean? ’. It further adds to the impression that the working-class man is poorly educated. The verbs that are used ‘ lurches’, ‘ flops’, ‘ lunges’, and ‘ swings’ are all quite erratic and violent movements, and the fact that the poem is in the present tense add to that feeling of immediacy and make you feel in the poem.
At the end, the structure of the last sentence, ‘ On very nearly steady legs’ could be describing the man’s movements as he steps off of the bus, because the words are used as a sort of calligram, the words look like steps. In conclusion, ‘ Good Friday’ is a poem in which strong poetic techniques such as speech, verbs, repetition, andsymbolism, and they are used to highlight central themes in the poem such as social class issues, and the way society is becoming increasingly secular.