This is a poem . . .

. . . no, it’s  a string of noun phrases!


Off course

       Edwin Morgan


the golden flood       the weightless seat
the cabin song       the pitch black
the growing beard       the floating crumb
the shining rendezvous       the orbit wisecrack
the hot spacesuit       the smuggled mouth-organ
the imaginary somersault       the visionary sunrise
the turning continents       the space debris
the golden lifeline       the space walk
the crawling deltas       the camera moon
the pitch velvet       the rough sleep
the crackling headphone       the space silence
the turning earth       the lifeline continents
the cabin sunrise       the hot flood
the shining spacesuit       the growing moon

the crackling somersault       the smuggled orbit
the rough moon       the visionary rendezvous
the weightless headphone       the cabin debris
the floating lifeline       the pitch sleep
the crawling camera       the turning silence
the space crumb       the crackling beard
the orbit mouth-organ       the space song


Trying to teach syntax through poetry, I am! An endeavour formidable enough to make blogging impossible, readers will agree?



  1. Space Bar said

    I love Edwin Morgan. He is really one of my most favourite poets.

    Would also be great if you could share your methodology – this sounds very intriguing.

  2. Space Bar:
    Ah, yes. The little I’ve read of Morgan I like.

    Methodology? Sigh. It’s all about engaging students, keeping them from getting bored. To quote Ezra Pound: “The lecturer’s first problem is to have enough words to fill 40 or 60 minutes. . . . No teacher has ever failed from ignorance. That is empiric professional knowledge. Teachers fail because they cannot “handle a class.” (ABC of Reading) Double sigh.

  3. Quirky Indian said

    Intriguing. I’d never heard of him before this.
    Any idea why he’s used some words in different combinations? Is it because he thinks they ‘sound’ better?

    And, since you asked. Impossible, no. Infrequent, yes.


    Quirky Indian

  4. QI:
    Morgan is one of the greatest Scottish poets, Poet Laureate. He’s popular with linguistics teachers because the range of variation in style in his poetry makes for excellent language analysis. This poem has in fact has been extensively analysed stylistically by Ronald Carter.

    The poem is intriguing at various levels. The lack of punctuation and verbs. The graphology: how do you read it? Across the page? Down vertically, one column after the other? The skewedness of the second paragraph, the lack of clean alignment of the column on the right.. All of which suggest free- floating-ness. The phrases are like flashes of thought, images, inviting you to associate them and impose your own structure and meaning.

    Yes, the repetition could be for “sound” Poetry is largely about rhythm. Notice that all the phrases invoke very concrete images and perhaps the repetition of words is meant to forge associations between seemingly disparate phrases: the floating crumb, the space crumb, the space debris, the cabin debris, the space silence, the space walk

    However, these are not straightforward repetitions. They help tell a story. “space debris” of line 7 becomes “cabin debris” in line 17. Bits and pieces floating about in space is normal, but debris in a cabin? That suggests something gone wrong.
    Similarly “growing beard” becomes “crackling beard” suggesting beard on a body subjected to electric shock or freezing air. “cabin song” becomes “floating song” “turning continents” becomes “turning silences”

    It’s basically a space poem. In the anthology in which it originally appears, the poem has a picture of a spaceship gong across space in the background. And that’s why most of the words have to do with space and space journey.
    The graphology of the poem – the second para being slightly skewed – seems to suggest something going wrong, the space ship going off course, and this is what the variation in the repetitions also work toward building.

  5. Quirky Indian said

    SS: Thanks much for the explanation……was better able to appreciate the poem after reading your comment.


    Quirky Indian

  6. Attractive component of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your weblog posts.
    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I fulfillment you get right of entry to consistently rapidly.

  7. James said

    Fate schifo… itivi a sgaddrare. Fate schifo

  8. James said

    This is a so stupid poem without any sense. Fuck to the author

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