The situation is established in the opening stanza. Morgan’s use of alliteration captures the sound and movement which attract the speaker’s attention in the café. The alliteration of the hard sounds of the initial letters of
clatter highlights the starkness of the sound against the background noise of the café.
slowly emphasises the careful, cautious movements of the man and the word choice of
levers really emphasises the laboriousness of the man’s movements before the speaker’s focus changes to describing his physical appearance. We are told how the man’s back forms a
dismal hump which is
looming over him.
The word choice here paints a vivid, repulsive picture of the old man’s deformed appearance while the choice of the miserable, unpleasant adjective
dismal elicits a sympathetic response from both the speaker and the reader as we begin to understand the bleakness of his situation.
His hunched back is described as
looming, creating the impression that it is almost malevolent, deliberately enforcing misery upon the man as though it is a separate entity and not connected to him.
The simile used to capture the impression of how the man looks in his large coat - like
a monstrous animal caught in a tent is particularly evocative. The old man is compared to a frightening creature, ensnared and struggling to escape. Everything about him seems to isolate him and emphasise his differences.
His physical deformities revile us to the extent that we find them and him frightening, when in fact the emotion that he should elicit is not fear but sympathy. Here Morgan reveals the distasteful side of human nature that makes us so often reluctant to show compassion and kindness to those who need it most.
The sentence structure of the final line conveys the man’s slow speech which mimics his careful, deliberate movements later in the poem. The use of dashes in the line
I want - to go to the - toilet suggests a staccato quality to what he says. This may indicate the man’s patient, considered approach but may also reveal a certain helplessness.
The line is not a question but a statement, yet we understand that such a statement, when considered alongside the man’s appearance and his white stick, is a request for assistance.