Gold from the Old

Ali Smith finds an ancient epic given new life in Edwin Morgan's The Play of Gilgamesh

Saturday January 14, 2006
The Guardian  

The Play of Gilgamesh
by Edwin Morgan

The poet Edwin Morgan is a miraculous kind of writer in a personality-crazed age. Selflessness and open-armed anonymity are at the centre of all his art. For more than 50 years, in his own poems he's given voice to everything from sperm-and-egg to the far planetary universe, with an energy driven by serene humanist optimism and a keenness to classify our own "unclassic time". [more]

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Edwin Morgan's verse play translation of the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh brings an ancient story to life in a supple, vigorous idiom that moves easily between ritual, comedy and moments of intense beauty. Here a god-king, a great city builder, learns the timeless truth that the only immortality lies in what will be remembered and recorded of his actions. Gilgamesh's quest takes him, and the audience, on a journey through a world that is both mythic and familiar, inhabited by terrifying demons and 'disappeared' political prisoners, by gods and singing transvestites and a Glaswegian jester--and by Enkidu, the beloved child of nature who dies of a virus in the blood, through whom Gilgamesh learns to understand the meaning of loss.

‘Morgan is not only a poet of Glasgow, but of all Scotland, and beyond.’ The Guardian.
‘Now in his eighties, Morgan is the most influential Scottish poet since Hugh MacDiarmid.’ London Review of Books.







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