‘In the Snack Bar’ by Edwin Morgan is an emotional poem that explores the theme of bravery through the character of an old blind man. The characterisation of this old man and the imagery, word choice and line structure Morgan employs help to convey to the reader the main theme of bravery and also help to evoke sympathy and compassion for the disabled old man. The most significant poetic technique employed by Morgan in this emotional poem is undoubtedly imagery; the transferred epithet ‘dismal hump’ helps to convey to the reader the old man’s plight and the burden he literally has to carry with him all his life.
Morgan furthers the notion of the man’s plight through his use of the simile ‘like a monstrous animal caught in a tent/in some story’. The comparison of the disabled man to a monster dehumanises the man and further emphasises the extent of his plight and his isolation from society. This simile also conveys the man’s bravery as it shows that despite him being a prisoner of his own disability – or metaphorically ‘caught in a tent’ – he refuses to give in to the pressures of his disability and his detachment from society.
Morgan here, in my opinion, very effectively employs the simile and the transferred epithet to appeal to the reader and also to evoke sympathy for the disabled man which further augments the reader’s understating of the man’s bravery and endurance. Furthermore, Edwin Morgan’s clever line structure throughout the poem helps to emphasise the power of the human spirit.
For example, the repetition of the clichi?? ‘inch by inch’ emphasises the endurance of the old man and could also suggests that his life is like a clichi??- overused to him an perhaps monotonous but he still fights. The poet furthers the notion of this through further repetition: ‘He climbs, and steadily enough. /He climbs, we climb. He climbs /with many pauses. ‘ By placing a line break after ‘he climbs’ and ‘steadily enough’, the poet places deliberate weighting on the words at the end of the line to emphasise the endurance and bravery of the disabled man. This technique is used at various points throughout the poem.
For example: ”Wherever he could go it would be dark/ and yet he must trust men. Without embarrassment or shame/ he must announce his most pitiful needs/ in a public place. ‘ Notably, Morgan places a line break after ‘dark’ to remind the reader of the extent of his plight and after ‘shame’ to emphasise that the disabled man does not feel embarrassed or ashamed to ‘announce his most pitiful needs’ as he knows that he is obliged to, conveying his bravery.
In my opinion, this is a particularly effective technique employed by Morgan as it is used throughout the poem to place emphasis on the degree of the old man’s plight and enhances the reader’s sympathy for the man which in turn augments the reader’s understanding of the hardly sporadic theme of bravery/endurance. Furthermore, Edwin Morgan’s clever word choice in this poem is particularly effective in evoking sympathy from the reader and in conveying the disabled man’s endurance: ‘And slowly we go up. /The faltering, unfaltering steps.
‘ The paradox ‘faltering, unfaltering’ is employed to emphasise the man’s endurance and bravery which in turn further evokes sympathy from the reader. This links to the repetition of ‘slowly we go down’, reinforcing the determination of the disabled man. This is also reinforced through the scene in the toilet: ‘glad to leave the contraption and face the stairs’. Also, the use of the phrase ‘face the stairs’ gives the impression that the man feels he is facing a mountainous challenge but refuses to be defeated by his disability, again conveying his determination and linking to the main theme of the power of the human spirit.
In my opinion, Morgan’s clever word choice throughout the poem is also very sensory to place the reader in the disabled man’s shoes as he cannot see himself. This is particularly effective because it makes the poem more personal and immediate, evoking the reader’s empathy which also emphasises the old man’s bravery to the reader. More notably, the two latter techniques are brought together in one line to sum up the main themes of the poem: ‘but with that one/ persisting patience of the undefeated/ which is the nature of man when all is said.
‘ The line break after ‘undefeated’ places deliberate emphasis on the bravery/endurance of the man or the power of the human spirit. Also, the alliterative ‘persisting patience’ is employed to induce the reader’s sympathy to further enhance the notion of the man’s bravery. In my opinion, this particular line sums up the purpose of the poem, recapitulates the main theme of bravery and also very effectively conveys to the reader the poet’s main moral lesson through the didactic tone.
In conclusion, Edwin Morgan employs clever word choice, line structure and emotive imagery very effectively to successfully evoke the reader’s sympathy for the disabled old man and to help enhance the reader’s understanding of the main theme of the power of the human spirit. After all, without these poetic techniques, the poem would not be deemed as emotional and therefore would not appeal to the reader’s emotions as successfully as Morgan achieved.