This is Edwin Morgan's "Archives." It's my favorite of the "simple" typewritten concrete poems in the anthology of concretism edited by Eugene Wildman, published by Swallow Press in 1969. My paperback of this is nothing special, but I cherish it. I could talk about this poem for a long time and not nearly be done saying what I want to say about it: generation as proliferation of meaning and also the same thing over and over, the archive as something that forestalls decay, enjambment and its relation to generation, the irony of progress, the future of the machine, and more more. Form here adds a great deal of the meaning (as in all good concrete poetry, of course). This has so much more to offer than properly lineated syntactical descriptive language pseudo-transparently running left to right in lines telling us what we should think and feel about the generations' decline. But this, it seems to me, is art - so much more of an art. At least it's what excites me about art (form doing the hard work with seeming ease).
- Crawford, Robert, and Hamish Whyte, eds. About Edwin Morgan. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1990.
- "Edwin Morgan: A Celebration." Chapman 64 (1991): 1-45.
Born in Glasgow, Edwin Morgan was expected to join the family shipping business, but began writing love poems instead. He served in the second world war, taught himself Russian and drew inspiration from the Beats. Acknowledged as Scotland's foremost living writer, he was in 2004 named the country's first poet laureate.
For Morgan early on a powerful force from the US was William Carlos Williams: the poet with an instinct to explore his own locality. Morgan understood, as he himself put it, that "Williams was doing something with the place where he lived that I could apply to the place where I lived. He influenced me in being able to write about very ordinary things in Glasgow. I had never thought of that kind of approach before. At school, poetry was mostly Romantic poetry, it was exalted, it was about love and nature and great subjects - not about the slums of Glasgow." There's more here.