trio notes - Mrs Dixon TGS

Critical Essay
Some poems can provide an uplifting or
joyful experience for the reader.
Choose such a poem and go on to explain
how the poet’s use of poetic techniques
helps us to share his emotions.
In your answer you should refer to at least
two of: structure,word choice, imagery,
tone, ideas.
• Theme of warmth, happiness, relationships
• religious element three -wise men
• the word ‘trio’ suggests the three working
together, in harmony
• Line arrangement also has divisions into
three sections
Coming up Buchanan Street, quickly, on a sharp winter evening
a young man and two girls, under the Christmas lights-
A real location
‘quickly’ suggests their liveliness, energy
day and season is established
coldness contrasts with the warmth of the three
the Christmas lights reminds us of the star leading the
Magi to Bethlehem
• the dash opens parenthesis containing a detailed
description of a fleeting ‘instamatic’ moment
The young man carries a new guitar in his arms,
the girl on the inside carries a very young baby,
and the girl on the outside carries a chihuahua.
Repetition of ‘young’ highlights youth
the guitar relates to the Magi, bearing gifts
the baby reminds us of Mary and the baby Christ
the exotic little dog relates to the beasts round
the manger
And the three of them are laughing, and their breath rises
in a cloud of happiness, and as they pass
the boy says, ‘Wait till he sees this, but!’
• ‘Laughing’ reinforces the positive atmosphere
• the ‘cloud of happiness’ is a metaphor suggesting
that their happiness is almost visible, tangible
and infectious. It is cold and their breath in the air
would be visible.
• the direct speech (with obvious Glaswegian
dialect) brings them to life and suggests their
warmth and generosity
The chihuahua has a tiny Royal Stewart tartan coat like a teapotholder,
the baby in its white shawl is all bright eyes and moth like favours
in a fresh sweet cake,
the guitar swells under its milky plastic cover, tied at the neck
with silver tinsel tape and a brisk sprig of mistletoe.
• Structure here, with long lines spilling over, suggests
their warmth and happiness spilling over and infecting
others, also suggested by “swells”
• simile “teapot-holder” suggests warmth, cosiness
• simile ‘favours’ suggests weddings and christenings:
happy family occasions
• ‘milky’ suggests the nurturing of the child
• alliteration suggests the sounds of the tinsel and
wrapped gifts
Orphean sprig! Melting baby! Warm chihuahua!
• The poet seems overwhelmed and filled
with wonder at the image, shown by the use
of exclamation marks
• their warmth ‘Melting’ & ‘Warm’ has
affected him
• Orpheus is the Greek God of music(guitar)
• the sprig is mistletoe (associated with
The vale of tears is powerless before you.
Whether Christ is born, or is not born, you
put paid to fate, it abdicates
under the Christmas lights
• ‘vale of tears’ is a Biblical expression suggesting pain and
• The next line suggests Morgan is not concerned with a
Christian message in this poem, but more the idea of the
power of human love at this time
• ‘fate’ often written with a capital letter, loses its power
here and ‘abdicates’ like a king giving up the throne
because the trio “you” is more powerful
• the pushing aside of the Christian message is reflected in
layout of the line ‘under the Christmas lights’ pushed
Monsters of the year
go blank, are scattered back,
can’t bear this march of three.
• Bad things like death, break ups, burglary,
work stress are cancelled out , forgotten
when we start to remember what is really
• ‘march of three’ suggests an army, three
musketeers etc., heroes who are defeating
-And the three have passed, vanished in the crowd
(yet not vanished, for in their arms they wind
the life of men and beasts , and music,
laughter ringing round them like a guard)
at the end of this winter’s day.
• Parenthesis - closes the initial image/moment. Brackets
are used to extend their presence - they might have
vanished but their effect continues. Without the brackets
it would be as if their influence had also gone
• ‘ringing’ suggests Christmas bells and is a sound that
lingers just like their happy image lingers
• ‘like a guard’ simile- their laughter protects them, keeps
them safe and happy
Some poems can provide an uplifting
or joyful experience for the reader.
Choose such a poem and go on to
explain how the poet’s use of poetic
techniques helps us to share his
In your answer you should refer to at
least two of: structure, word choice,
imagery, tone, ideas.
• Introduction
•Word choice / imagery
Remember that your focus is on an uplifting
experience, so choose those words and images that
create the joyful atmosphere most powerfully.
When writing about structure , explain what the
parenthesis & sentence structure add to the emotional
Point relevant to task
Personal reaction
Although the day is cold and
frosty, the love that unites the
three people keeps them warm.
Morgan uses imagery
effectively to convey how he is
infected by their warmth: “their
breath rises in a cloud of
happiness.” This metaphor
conveys how in the cold air their
breath is visible – literally a
cloud, but it also suggests that
their happiness itself is visible,
tangible and infectious to all
they pass. Through Morgan’s
vivid description , the reader is
also touched by the warmth of
the three.
‘Trio’ by Edwin Morgan is an uplifting poem which
examines the power of human warmth and
kindness during the festive season. Morgan has
beautifully captured an instant of time when three
happy young shoppers pass him in the street. He
is clearly affected by this experience and shares
with his reader the joyful atmosphere of the
moment and the overwhelmingly positive insight
he gained into the human condition.

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