Poem of the Month: Homage to Edwin Morgan

Homage to Edwin Morgan

by Roy Fisher

When Scotland shall secede, and lift itself
clear of the yelping South, let the boundary
be drawn again with tact. There must be room
for the lately abandoned counties of England
and the defectors drifting north.
So have the southernmost frontier post
set at the bridge by Derby
where the ’45 petered out. My house sits
forty miles to the north, so I can show
ways through Derby by back roads in darkness. Pay me
with sure asylum and a strong border;
don’t let me go to London any more.
I know of real Scots Fishers; my first name
comes from the Gaelic. I’ll learn to spell it.

And I invoke your gods. First, in his wobbly bowler,
the Burry Man at South Queensferry, then,
at the South Queen Mary Ferry — Burns!
The Merry Queen; the Whittrick (where
in hell did that come from?) — Hey! Suddenly
there’s a man at the Queen’s south fur . . .

Oh furry Queen of Scots! McGonagall
should bring anew your softness to the breasts of Englishmen,
and respectfully remind you of how our Buxton waters, gently mineral,
used to help your arthritis considerably, now and again.

Roy Fisher

Roy Fisher who died in March of this year was as English as they come, his work rooted in the English Midlands where he was born. He is often presented as a dour and complicated poet and labelled a modernist. However, while he was certainly not shy about experimentation and some of his poems are complex, his work is witty, self-deprecating and characterised by an earthy disrespect for the establishment (including the poetry establishment. And as in this Homage to Edwin Morgan he would have sympathised with those campaigning for Indyref2. The poem is taken from ‘The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2010’ published by Bloodaxe.

Chosen and with notes by David Underdown.