Apologies for the poor banner on this post. My scanner is knackered so I had to upload it as a photo. I’ll replace it as soon as I can!
Today is the 112th anniversary of the death of a man who is generally considered to be the worst poet ever to have written in the English language. That man was William Topaz McGonagall. McGonagall was really quite abysmal as a poet and, as such, is unbelievably entertaining to read. If you don’t believe me, read The Tay Bridge Disaster which is one of his most famous poems. While you’re on his website, do take a look around. Another personal favourite of mine is The Ancient Town of Leith. He was wonderfully genuine and sincere but just lacked any poetic skill. As an aspiring awful poet, I have come to consider William McGonagall as a bit of a hero.
Not only was he a naff poet, but he was a true Scottish eccentric. He once walked about 60 miles from Dundee to Balmoral to visit Queen Victoria who had sent him a letter. Upon arriving, he was told she wouldn’t see him so he immediately turned around and walked straight back! He also famously wrote ‘The first man who threw peas at me was a publican’.
He named the published collection of his poetry ‘Poetic Gems’. What an amazingly brilliant man!
I wanted to mark this occasion with a tribute to McGonagall written in his own style. Merry Deathday Willliam McGonagall! May you be remember’d for a very long time indeed!
William McGonagall, most amusing to read
I’m sure many intelligent men will concede
Your beautiful lyrics have earned you remembrance to this day
As an example, I name your telling of the rail bridge disaster over the silvery Tay
Your first poem appeared in News Weekly in July of 1877
Your unique ignorance of form or rhythm must have sent the readers to Heaven
And since then, at least most people do declare
Your writing remained similarly graceful and fair
William McGonagall, most eccentric in the land
You were a very prolific poet which is really grand
And today of all days, I have heard many people shout
‘Oh what a pity we don’t have William Topaz McGonagall about!’
You walked for many miles to perform
And you were far too strange ever to want to conform
You walked to a palace and saw Queen Victoria wave her beautiful hand
And felt inspired because the way she waved was really grand
You sadly passed away on 29th September in the year of 1902 in Edinburgh
And the world was plunged into deep sorrow
And since that day, in solemn tones it is often said
‘I’m sad that William McGonagall is dead’