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Morgan, Edwin

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1920-2010) Scottish poet, active from the mid 1930s; ranked somewhere above George Mackay Brown or Edwin Muir (1887-1959), and just below the pre-eminent Hugh MacDiarmid, in the pantheon of twentieth-century poets in Scotland. Though much of the work of many contemporary poets can be understood as cognate or intimate with Fantastika as a whole, Morgan is unusual among writers of the first rank to have written more than a few poems of direct sf interest, some – like "In Sobieski's Shield", whose narrator and family have arrived by Matter Transmission on an alien planet, and "From the Domain of Arnheim", a Time Travel meditation – appearing in his most successful early collection, The Second Life (coll 1968 chap); the poems assembled in From Glasgow to Saturn (coll 1973 chap) touch upon the regions mentioned in the title, and include several written by a sentient Computer, which incorporate, after the author's fashion, some language games (see Linguistics). More of his sf is assembled in Star Gate: Science Fiction Poems (coll 1979 chap), which includes poems on Cloning, a guided tour of the moons of Jupiter, and other sf topics all conveyed without metaphorical sidesteppings. The thematically linked poems in Sonnets from Scotland (coll 1984 chap) comprise a portrait of the land from before life came north on into the Far Future, through the eyes of nonhuman observers who express sympathy for the human condition; "Planet Wave", a sequence of poems assembled in A Book of Lives (coll 2007), is narrated by a witness whose gaze extends from twenty billion BCE to 2300 CE. Throughout Morgan's work a sense of the solitudinousness of Homo sapiens is leavened by joy in the discovery of new worlds. He was declared National Poet of Scotland by the Scottish Parliament in 2004. He stands with Thomas M Disch, Albert Goldbarth and James Merrill as being among the most significant sf poets of the past half century; he shares with Goldbarth and Merrill the distinction of having never won a Rhysling Award. [JC]

see also: Poetry.

Edwin George Morgan

born Glasgow, Scotland: 27 April 1920

died Glasgow, Scotland: 17 August 2010

works (highly selected)



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