The Black Watch Memorial

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

Ye Sons of Mars, it gives me great content
To think there has been erected a handsome monument
In memory of the Black Watch, which is magnificent to see,
Where they first were embodied at Aberfeldy.

And as a Highland regiment they are worthy of what has been done for them,
Because a more courageous regiment we cannot find of men
Who have bravely fought and bled in defence of their country,
Especially in the Ruusian War and Soudan War they made their enemies flee.

The monument I hope will stand secure for many a long day,
And may the people of Aberfeldy always feel gay;
As they gaze upon the beautiful Black Watch monument,
I hope they will think of the brave soldiers and feel content.

'Twas in the year of 1887, and on Saturday the 12th of November,
Which the people of Aberfeldy and elsewhere will remember,
Who came all the way from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and Dundee,
Besides the Pitlochry Volunteers headed the procession right manfully.

And the Perthshire Rifies joined the procession with their pipe band,
Then followed a detachment of the 42nd Righlanders so grand,
Under the command of Lieutenant McCleod,
Whose duty if was to represent the regiment of which he felt proud.

The pipe band of the Glasgow Highlanders also were there,
And Taymouth Brass Band, which discoursed sweet music I do declare;
Also military officers and the magistrates of Aberfeldy,
While in the rear came the members of Committee.

There were also Freemasons, Foresters, all in a row,
And wearing their distinctive regalias, which made a great show;
And the processionists were formed into three sides of a square
Around the monument, while the music of the bands did rend the air.

The noble Marquis of Breadalbane arrived on the ground at 1.30,
Escorted by a guard of honour and his pipe band;
Then the bands struck up, and the pipes were set a bumming,
And all with one accord played up the "Campbell's are Coming."

Then his Lordship ascended a platform on the north side of the monument,
And the bands played cheerfully till their breath was almost spent;
Then his Lordship received three ringing cheers from the people there,
Then he requested the Rev. John McLean to open the proceedings with prayer.

And after the prayer, Major Menzies stepped forward
And said, "Ladies and gentlemen, for the Black Watch I have great regard;
And the duty I have to perform gives me great content,
And that is to ask the noble Marquis to unveil this monument."

Then he handed the noble Marquis a Lochaber axe to unveil the Monument,
And the Marquis said, "Sir, to your request I most willingly consent."
Then he unveiled the monument in memory of the gallant Forty-twa,
While the bands played up the "Highland Laddie" as loud as they could blaw.

And when the bands ceased playing the noble Marquis said,
"This monument I declare is very elegantly made,
And its bold style is quite in keeping with the country I find,
And the Committee were fortunate in obtaining so able a designer as Mr. Rhind."

Then, turning to the Chief Magistrate of Aberfeldy,
He said, "Sir, I have been requested by the Committee
To give you the deed conveying the monument to your care,
With the feu-charter of the ground, therefore, sir, I'd have you beware."

Then the Chief Magistrate Forbes to Lord Breadalbane said,
"My noble Lord, I accept the charge, and you needn't be afraid.
Really it gives me much pleasure in accepting as I now do from thee
This Memorial, along with the deeds, on behalf of Aberfeldy."

Then Major Menzies proposed three cheers for the burgh of Aberfeldy,
And three cheers were given right heartily.
Then the Taymouth Band played "God Save the 8ueen,"
Then the processionists marched to the New Public School, happy and serene.

Then there was a banquet held in the school,
At which three hundred sat down and ate till they were full;
And Lord Breadalbane presided, and had on his right,
Magistrates, Colonels, end Provosfs, a most beautiful sight.

And the toast of "The Queen," "Prince and Princess of Wales," were given,
Wishing them prosperity while they are living;
Then the noble Chairman proposed "The Army, Navy and Volunteers,"
Which was loudly responded to with three loud cheers.

Then Colonel Smith, of the Highland Volunteers, from Bonnie Dundee
Replied for the Volunteers right manfully.
Then the noble Chairman said, "The toast I have now to propose
Is long life and prosperity to the Royal Highlanders in spite of th
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:50 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic octameter
Characters 4,357
Words 775
Stanzas 18
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

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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