William McGonagall

William McGonagall

Today is the 113th anniversary of the death of William McGonagall. I marked this date last year as well. William McGonagall is widely remembered as the worst poet ever to have written in English. I mark his death date rather than his birthday because nobody really knows when his birthday is, owing to the fact that he recorded several different dates in his various pieces of autobiographical writing. Each new autobiography he released featured more extravagant fictions than the last including standing ovations, commendations from the queen, and even a very elegant and slick fight with a group of would-be muggers.

He really was a very bad poet and his poetry, which can be found here is very amusing to read. However, as you journey back into his life, a truly tragic figure emerges. William McGonagall worked as a weaver until he was 50 when his family was hit hard by poverty. He claimed to have been suddenly inspired to write poetry and began sending his efforts in to a local paper which turned him into a minor local celebrity owing to how utterly ridiculous and appalling the poems were.

Driven by seemingly psychotic delusions about the quality of his writing and an obliviousness to mockery and criticism, he toured the country, reading to the public. He was met with sarcasm, ridicule, rudeness, and even violence. On one occasion, some particularly cruel pranksters convinced him that a famous poet had written to him expressing a desire to tour together. William McGonagall was extremely gullible and excitedly agreed to a meeting. Upon arrival he was heartlessly strung along until the pranksters could no longer keep straight faces and the penny finally dropped.

He was a poor man fighting to provide for his wife and children and so, while his poetry is hilariously dreadful, I will always have soft spot for McGonagall and remember him with respect for his dedication to his family and his strong morality. Poor, poor mad McGonagall.

I have written another poem, imitating his unique style, in tribute to the late, great poet and tragedian William Topaz McGonagall.

William McGongall

I hope others think it really grand
That I can write this lay by hand
Thanking this Scottish poet, by the name of William McGonagall
For writing poetry for us all
And even when I grow old
My pen will always sing his praise
In many different ways

His wild hair and strange stories
Would greatly please everyone, be they liberals or tories
Observational poetry was his apparent gift
And in his poems, of metaphors there is certainly no thrift
And though one day I will grow old
My pen will always sing his praise
In many different ways

On 29th September, in the city of Edinburgh, in the year of 1902
The world lost a Scottish poet, Yes it’s true
And though 113 years have passed since that tragedy came to have passed
The wounds it left will not be healing very fast
And should, like him, I get to grow old
My pen will always sing his praise
In many different ways

And if, William, others don’t understand
Why I profess that your poetry is really grand
I will tell them to read Poetic Gems for themselves
For joy cannot escape the man who into your poetry delves
Perhaps my hand will tremble, William, when I grow old
But my pen will always sing your praise
In many different ways

This biography is the most beautiful to be seen

This biography is the most beautiful to be seen

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