Bonnie Dundee in 1878

William Topaz McGonagall 1825 – 1902 (Greyfriars Parish, Edinburgh)

Oh, Bonnie Dundee! I will sing in thy praise
A few but true simple lays,
Regarding some of your beauties of the present day
And virtually speaking, there's none can them gainsay;
There's no other town I know of with you can compare
For spinning mills and lasses fair,
And for stately buildings there's none can excel
The beautiful Albert Institute or the Queen's Hotel,
For it is most handsome to be seen,
Where accommodation can be had for Duke, Lord or Queen,
And the four pillars of the front are made of Aberdeen granite, very fine,
And most beautiful does shine, just like a looking glass,
And for beauty and grandeur there's none can them surpass.
And your fine shops in Reform Street,
Very few can with them compete
For superfine goods, there's none can excel,
From Inverness to Clerkenwell.
And your Tramways, I must confess,
That they have proved a complete success,
Which I am right glad to see ...
And a very great improvement to Bonnie Dundee.
And there's the Royal Arch, most handsome to be seen,
Erected to the memory of our Most Gracious Queen -
Most magnificent to see,
And a very great honour to the people of Dundee.
Then there's the Baxter Park, most beautiful to see,
And a great boon it is to the people of Dundee,
For there they can enjoy themselves when they are free from care
By inhaling the perfumed air,
Emanating from the sweet flowers and green trees and shrubs there.
Oh, Bonnie Dundee! I must conclude my muse,
And to write in praise of thee, my pen does not refuse,
Your beauties that I have alluded to are most worthy to see,
And in conclusion, I will call thee Bonnie Dundee!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Topaz McGonagall

William Topaz McGonagall (March 1825 – 29 September 1902) was an Irish weaver, poet and actor who lived in Scotland. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers' opinions of his work. He wrote about 200 poems, including "The Tay Bridge Disaster" and "The Famous Tay Whale", which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature. Groups throughout Scotland engaged him to make recitations from his work, and contemporary descriptions of these performances indicate that many listeners were appreciating McGonagall's skill as a comic music hall character. Collections of his verse remain popular, with several volumes available today. McGonagall has been lampooned as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms are that he was deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme. McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language. His work is in a long tradition of narrative ballads and verse written and published about great events and tragedies, and widely circulated among the local population as handbills. In an age before radio and television, their voice was one way of communicating important news to an avid public. more…

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