Themes

Themes explored in this poem include poverty, societal neglect and urban decay.

The people in the poem have very little. The man sits with his apartment crumbling about him; two women live on the top floor – the only one which is still habitable in the crumbling block. Meanwhile outside, the debris from the building is constructed into the play things of children who we assume cannot afford other kinds of toys.

There is an underlying sense of rage from the poet that his has been allowed to happen in his city. Mean, hackles, and crazy all suggest his anger at the madness of these living conditions for human beings. Condemned suggests the attitude of a society too quick to write off those that need help and the offering of some kind of hope.

The idea of decay is central to the poem. The building itself stands for the shattered lives of its inhabitants. They have been discarded, allowed to diminish just as if they were the rubbish that blows across the backcourt in the first line. Morgan clearly sympathises and his poem is both a documentary picture of a Glasgow ugly in its dying squalor and a love sonnet to a people he is crying out to see saved.

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