LEADING figures from the worlds of art and politics gathered at Glasgow University today to say farewell to Scotland's national poet, Edwin Morgan.
Morgan died aged 90 at his care home in Glasgow last Thursday. He had suffered from prostate cancer since 1999 but it is understood he died after a bout of pneumonia.
He was recognised as one of the great poets of the 20th century and was the last remaining member of the group of Scots known as the 'Big Seven' - Hugh MacDiarmid, Iain Crichton Smith, George Mackay Brown, Robert Garioch, Norman MacCaig and Sorley MacLean.
In 2004, the then First Minister Jack McConnell appointed Morgan Scots Makar - effectively Scotland's poet laureate.
Today, several hundred people attended a humanist service to celebrate his life in Bute Hall at the University of Glasgow, where he was a lecturer and later a professor.
First Minister Alex Salmond, Mr McConnell, novelists James Kelman and Alasdair Gray and poet and playwright Liz Lochhead were among those present.
Delivering the eulogy, Dr George Reid, former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, said that Morgan "expanded the frontiers of Scottish poetry".
He said: "We honour a world-class poet who was one of our own. A master of versatility and variety in verse.
"A poet of this parish who was universal in his outreach. A whittrick of a writer who could start in a tenement close and take this city and country off on an intergalactic voyage.
"A great humanist Scot who, despite all the pyrotechnics of his poetry, always wanted to explore existence and what it means to be alive. Nothing was beyond Eddie's frontiers."
Dr Reid touched on the time Morgan spent as an academic at Glasgow University, where he was "extremely popular" with students and "liberated lives".
He also described how Morgan publicly announced that he was gay "as a 70th birthday present to himself" and approached life with vigour through his eighties.
He said that the poet was always interested in the future, particularly in spacecraft, and was one of the first people to put his name down for a journey to the moon.
During the service, fellow poets including Ms Lochhead and Hamish Whyte read from Morgan's work, with David Kinloch reading 'Strawberries', Morgan's famous love poem.
Poet Jackie Kay read 'From a City Balcony', saying: "I found that really inspiring that in his 70s he should come out as a gay man.
"He said that paradoxically before homosexuality was legalised there was something very erotic about the secrecy and I like that kind of contradiction."
Musician Tommy Smith read Morgan's poem Wolf and played the saxophone piece he improvised to accompany the work.
At the end of the service, the university choir sang 'Is There for Honest Poverty' by Robert Burns.
The coffin was then carried from the hall to the sound of 'Strawberry Fields' by the Beatles, Morgan's favourite band, which was played live on the organ.
University chaplain Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie said: "Eddie was a national figure in Scottish life and indeed in international life.
"His words reached out to many people and touched many hearts. He was not just ours, he was not just Scotland's, he belonged to the wider world."
Born in the city's west end, Morgan studied at Rutherglen Academy and Glasgow High School before moving onto university at the age of 17.
He penned more than 60 books of poetry and his work was widely used in the modern day curriculum.
His 'Sonnets from Scotland' are considered one of the most important works of post-war literature and as well as writing poetry, he also translated poems from various other languages.
In his later years Morgan was awarded a Saltire Society and Scottish Arts Council lifetime achievement award.