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An Excursion Steamer Sunk in the Tay

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

'Twas in the year of 1888, and on July the 14th day,
That an alarming accident occurred in the River Tay.
Which resulted in the sinking of the Tay Ferries' Steamer "Dundee,"
Which was a most painful and sickening sight to see.

The Steamer was engaged by the Independent Order of Rechabites,
And all were resolved to see some rural sights;
And the place they selected was the village of Newburgh;
While each heart was happy and free from sorrow.

And the weather was sunny, and really very fine,
And 900 souls had agreed to while away the time;
And they left the Craig Pier at half-past two o'clock,
Never thinking they would meet with an accidental shock.

And after passing underneath the Bridge of Tay,
Then they took the Channel on the south side without dismay;
And Captain Methven stood on the Steamer's bridge, I do declare,
And for the passengers he seemed to have very great care.

And all went well on board for some time,
And the silvery Tay shone beautiful in the sunshine;
And the passengers' hearts felt light and gay,
While they gazed on the bonnie banks of the silvery Tay.

To do justice to the passengers, they were a goodly band,
For their behaviour, 'tis said, was truly grand;
But to the eastward of Newburgh, the Steamer was too close inshore,
And on passing a boatman, he warningly to them did roar,-

Warning them not to come inshore so near,
But his warning voice the helmsman didn't hear;
Neither the Captain or passengers his warning dreads,
Until the Steamer struck a number of boulders, known as The Heads.

And close to the point where the Pow falls into the Tay,
Which the people that escaped drowning will remember for many a day,
Because many of the passengers were thrown off their balance;
But, most fortunately, they were all saved merely by chance.

And owing to the suddenness of the shock, many women fainted away,
Which filled the rest of the passengers' hearts with dismay;
But they soon regained their composure when close to the land,
Especially when they saw that succour was near at hand.

The engines were kept going at full speed,
And God helped His people in time of need;
And in a short time Newburgh was reached,
While many women wept bitterly, and loudly screeched.

Because by this time the forehold was nearly filled with water,
Which caused the passengers' teeth with fear to chatter;
Because the Steamer was settling down forward,
While to land the passengers safe Captain Methven struggled hard.

But before one-half of them had got ashore,
The women and children were in a state of uproar,
Because the forepart of the Steamer was submerged in the Tay,
Which filled the passengers' hearts with dismay.

But, thanks be to God! all the passengers were sent to Dundee
By the Steamers Renown, Forfarshire, Protector, and the Lass o' Gowrie,
Which certainly was a most beautiful sight to see,
When they landed 900 passengers safe on the pier at Dundee.

Then, good people, away to the mountains, glens, and lakes,
And drink of milk and pure water, and eat oaten cakes;
And sit down on the margin of a little burn in the sunshine,
And enjoy yourselves heartily during the holiday time.

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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…

All William Topaz McGonagall poems | William Topaz McGonagall Books

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