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Baldovan

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

The scenery of Baldovan
Is most lovely to see,
Near by Dighty Water,
Not far from Dundee.

'Tis health for any one
To be walking there,
O'er the green swards of Baldovan,
And in the forests fair.

There the blackbird and the mavis
Together merrily do sing
In the forest of Baldovan,
Making the woodlands to ring.

'Tis delightful to hear them
On a fine summer day,
Carolling their cheerful notes
So blythe and so gay.

Then there's the little loch near by,
Whereon can be seen every day
Numerous wild ducks swimming
And quacking in their innocent play.

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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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