(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 (1892-1976), 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). Most of his sf is assembled in Star Gate: Science Fiction Poems (coll 1979), 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) 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 chap), is narrated by a similar witness whose gaze extends from twenty billion BCE to 2300 CE. Throughout his work a sense of the solitudinousness of Homo sapiens is leavened by joy in the discovery of new worlds. Morgan 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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