Mark Fraser: Day One Hundred and Fifty Two – Marilyn Monroe

Posted on June 1, 2011 by


Today is Marilyn Monroe’s birthday.

Edwin Mogran, perhaps the greatest Scottish poet of the post-modern era, wrote a poem to commemorate her death. I couldn’t find it online, so I decided to transcribe it and post it here. You can hear the man himself, Edwin Morgan, read it by checking out the youtube video below. Failing that, the words are also there for your perusal. I apologise profusely for the the editing – Some lines should be tabbed out, however WordPress appears to be unable to achieve this unless you want a line break along with it. Which is bloody silly, if you ask me.

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

What innocence? Whose guilt? What eyes? Whose breast?

Crumpled orphan, nembutal bed,

white hearse, Los Angeles,

DiMaggio! Los Angeles! Miller! Los Angeles! America!

That Death should seem the only protector –

That all arms should have faded, and the great cameras and lights

become an inquisition and a torment –

That the many acquaintances, the autograph-hunters, the

inflexible directors, the drive-in admirers should become

a blur of incomprehension and pain –

That lonely Uncertainty should limp up, grinning, with

bewildering barbiturates, and watch her undress and lie

down and in her anguish

call for him! call for him to strengthen her with what could

only dissolve her! A method

of dying, we are shaken, we see it. Strasberg!

Los Angeles! Olivier! Los Angeles! Others die

and yet by this death we are a little shaken, we feel it,


Let no one say communication is a cantword.

They had to lift her hand from the bedside telephone.

But what she had not been able to say

perhaps she had said. ‘All I had was my life.

I have no regrets, because if I made

any mistakes, I was responsible.

There is now – and there is the future.

What has happened is behind. So

it follows you around? So what?’ – This

to a friend, ten days before.

And so she was responsible.

And if she was not responsible, not wholly responsible, Los

Angeles? Los Angeles? Will it follow you around? Will the slow

white hearse of the child of America follow you around?

Posted in: Mark Fraser