Edwin Morgan wrote a Good Friday poem about a man he met on a Glasgow bus at 3pm that day. You can feel the spring sunshine through the grimy windows if you read it at the Scottish Poetry Library website. Last year, we published the Edwin Morgan Twenties to mark his centenary: twenty poems in five slim volumes introduced by Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, Ken McLeod, Michael Rosen, and Ali Smith. Our poem for Easter 2021 comes from Take Heart, a sonnet in which Morgan envisages Pontius Pilate returning to his birthplace, Fortingall in Highland Perthshire.
Pilate at Fortingall
A Latin harsh with Aramaicisms
poured from his lips incessantly; it made
no sense, for surely he was mad. The glade
of birches shamed his rags, in paroxysms
he stumbled, toga’d, furred, blear, brittle, grey.
They told us he sat here beneath the yew
even in downpours; ate dog-scraps. Crows flew
from prehistoric stone to stone all day.
‘See him now.’ He crawled to the cattle-trough
at dusk, jumbled the water till it sloshed
and spilled into the hoof-mush in blue strands,
slapped with useless despair each sodden cuff,
and washed his hands, and watched his hands, and washed
his hands, and watched his hands, and washed his hands.Sonnets from Scotland (Mariscat Press, 1984)