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An Ode to the Queen

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

All hail to the Empress of India, Great Britain's Queen!
Long may she live in health, happy and serene;
Loved by her subjects at home and abroad;
Blest may she be when lying down
To sleep, and rising up, by the Eternal God;
Happy may her visions be in sleep ...
And happy her thoughts in the day time;
Let all loyal subjects drink to her health
In a flowing bumper of Rhenish Wine.
And when the final hour shall come to summon her away,
May her soul be wafted to the realms of bliss,
I most sincerely do pray, to sing with saints above,
Where all is joy, peace and love -
In Heaven, for evermore to reign,
God Save the Queen. Amen.

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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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    "An Ode to the Queen" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 12 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41781/an-ode-to-the-queen>.

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