One of the Scots poets honoured by Edinburgh's Mystery Paper Sculptor was Edwin Morgan, a Glaswegian. Having been born there, taken his degree and taught there, he became Glasgow's first Poet Laureate in 1999. He died last year, aged 90. Here's the first of his “Glasgow” sonnets, whose crammed consonants create a fantastic staccato effect. It's depressing, as one might expect a poem about Glasgow to be, but it's so clever and so almost painterly (a Scottish Vermeer might have painted it) that it's hard not to find beauty in it.
A mean wind wanders through the backcourt trash.
Hackles on puddles rise, old mattresses
puff briefly and subside. Play-fortresses
of brick and bric-a-brac spill out some ash.
Four storeys have no windows left to smash,
but the fifth a chipped sill buttresses
mother and daughter the last mistresses
of that black block condemned to stand, not crash.
Around them the cracks deepen, the rats crawl.
The kettle whimpers on a crazy hob.
Roses of mould grow from ceiling to wall.
The man lies late since he has lost his job,
smokes on one elbow, letting his coughs fall
thinly into an air too poor to rob.