William “Topaz” Mc Gonnagle was poet from Dundee, who discovered he could
make a rhyme at the grand old age of 52 or so. *
He considered himself second to Shakespeare in Britian, and it will be of no
surprise that he was of Irish stock to have a neck to make a claim such as
that considering the quality of the verse he wrote.
Today he is lauded as probably the worst poet in history, and some say he
was a fool, more say he was a satirist. His style is like the peasant songs,
except not set to music, and presented as pure poetry.
His style of delivery left a lot to be desired, and he was mocked frequently
when doing readings in his native city and beyond.
Whether satirist, fool or genuine and misguided, this poetic
anti-hero can be found in all writers, and this poem is written
in his style to recount his tale!
*Of awful verse he was the master, **
Writing of the Tay Bridge disaster,
Stating Shakespeare the best wordsmith be,
In Britain to date, and second he,
No disrespect to Burns the Bard
No desire for a great name to be tarred,
He was second best Scottish son,
North of the border, Mc Gonagall was number one!
On receiving inspiration divine
Pen he seized to write a line
Continued to write, such verse he penned:
Was to cause mirth until his end!
His first verse was to the Rev. Gilfillan, an address
Which was judged by same to be a poetic mess
Wryly the poets efforts the minister did dismiss
Stating “Shakespeare wrote nothing like this!”
His verse on theatre and street he read,
With laughter and derision he was met instead,
Of the respect he expected, while reading pompous
Clad in Kilt he caused quite a rumpus!
He tried once to America to go
But on its shores no-one did know
Found himself cut loose, culturally cast away
His homeward fare a kind stranger did pay
Once fifty miles or more he walked
To read verse to the queen: but when he talked
To the guardsmen at the gate
He was turned away in indignant state
To be poet laureate he said he wished to seek,
To be told that to try he had a cheek,
And he’d better move while still was free,
To go as he pleased all the way home to Dundee.
And them his finest hour came,
Or maybe his greatest composition of shame!
When the Tay Bridge collapsed in a gale
While upon it crossed a train by rail…
And to write upon it he was possessed
To read his words few were impressed
And his ode to the tragedy of the bridge of the Tay
Causes smiles to all to this very day.
Was he a fool… or just a bad poet
If he was a fool he seemed not to know it
Some say he was clever acted if on a stage,
Commanded an audience as he read each page.
Though they laughed at him things threw,
That he brightened their day that much he knew
And how many writers who so serious could be
Will be long forgotten when remembered is he?
How many poets refuse to use rhyme
Mc Gonagall insisted to use it all the time
Unfortunately the pattern often fell out of place,
For the Romantics cast him from grace,
He was but a common man, at least he did try,
To be like him, none want to be including I,
But still to convention he was never a slave,
And to his emotions was never the knave
As I this verse write in his appalling style
I admire his bravery, smiling all the while,
Though great are his foes and his friends are few,
To his art in his heart he tried to be true,
Those who read his words may mock and may grin
But to be a weaver and a poets no sin
And as I sit here more poetry to write,
May I be pure as heart as he as I scribble tonight!*