Winter Night: Edinburgh

Winter Night: Edinburgh

By Andrew Forster

Night falls quickly as turning back a clock
But the City is alive with light
Shops and cafes deny the darkness, throw light at the street like baited hooks.
Offices spill workers onto pavements,
The yellow drip of lamps washing colour
From their faces as they pass beneath.
Cars, trapped in a magnetic flow, controlled
By coloured lights, thrust beams at the blackness.
It can be seen for miles, this Metropolis:
Glowing orange like a prehistoric fire.

 The Summary of Winter Night: Edinburgh

  • Popularity of “Winter Night: Edinburgh”: “Winter Night: Edinburgh” by Andrew Forster, an English poet, and literary expert, is a highly interesting poem about the unconventional and unnatural lifestyle of the urban centers of Edinburg. The poem sheds light on the nightly business activities. The popularity of the poem lies in its personifying the city as having life and emotions of its own.
  • “Winter Night: Edinburgh” As a Representative of Modern Urban Lifestyle: The poem opens with the scene of the night that seems to fall quickly, showing that it has made the time turn back. However, the very next verse states that it is the city that does not accept the arrival of the night. It rather wakes up and starts its activities. These activities include the opening of cafes and shops, activities in the offices, and workers sitting on the pavements. The scene, then, turns to traffic, lights, and nocturnal lights, showing as if it is a “prehistoric fire.” The poem not only shows the modern lifestyle but also compares this with prehistoric human activities as if human beings have started turning the clock back.
  • Major Themes in “Winter Night: Edinburgh”: Urban lifestyle, business activities, and modern consumerism are three major thematic strands of the poem. The poet beautifully describes the night but suddenly states that it means turning the clock back in the city like Edinburg where businesses start at night rather than the day. The cafes and shops open and remove the darkness. Lights turn on and make office workers start gathering on the roads. The traffic congestion, colorful lights, and faces of the workers show the domination of consumerism as well as the business lifestyle.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Winter Night: Edinburgh”

literary devices are integral parts of poetic or prose writings. Their purpose is to beautify the poetry as well as make it meaningful for the readers. The analysis of these devices in the poem as given below shows this fact.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i/ in “But the City life is alive with light”, /a/ in “The church-spires flamed, such flags they had” and the sound of /e/ in “It can be seen from miles.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ and /d/ in “Shops and cafes deny the darkness”, /t/ and /s/ in “By coloured lights, thrust beams at the blackness,” and the sound of /r/ in “Glowing orange like a prehistoric fire.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

From their faces as they pass beneath.
Cars, trapped in a magnetic flow, controlled
By coloured lights, thrust beams at the blackness.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. The poem shows the use of imagery such as “But the City is alive with light”, “Shops and cafes deny the darkness” and “Office spill workers onto pavements.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poem shows the use of metaphors of business life such as shops and cafes have been compared to living things and traffic to a river having flow yet controlled.
  3. Motifs: The poet has used the motifs of light, blackness, and darkness in this poem to demonstrate the domination of modern lifestyle in modern cities.
  4. Personification: The poet has used the personifications of the city, shops, cafes, lamps, and cars as if they have life and emotions of their own.
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of symbols lights and colors to show the activities of city life.
  6. Simile: The poem shows the use of similes such as,

Throw light at the street like baited hooks.
Glowing orange like a prehistoric fire.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Winter Night: Edinburgh”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows no rhyming pattern or metrical pattern. Therefore, it is a free verse poem.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. The poem is a single stanza having ten verses in it.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “Winter Night: Edinburgh” are relevant to use when teaching about the changing urban landscapes.

It can be seen for miles, this Metropolis:
Glowing orange like a prehistoric fire.