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The Blind Girl

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

Kind Christians, pray list to me,
And I'll relate a sad story,
Concerning a little blind girl, only nine years of age,
Who lived with her father in a lonely cottage.

Poor girl, she had never seen the blessed light of day,
Nor the beautiful fields of corn and hay,
Nor the sparrows, that lifted their heads at early morn
To bright Sol that does the hills adorn.

And near the cottage door there was an elm tree;
But that stunted elm tree she never did see,
Yet her little heart sometimes felt gay
As she listened to the thrushes that warbled the live-long day.

And she would talk to the wren when alone,
And to the wren she would her loneliness bemoan,
And say, "Dear little wren, come again to-morrow;
Now be sure and come, your singing will chase away my sorrow."

She was motherless, but she had a drunken father,
Who in his savage moods drank all he could gather,
And would often cruelly beat her until she would cry,
"Dear father, if you beat me I will surely die."

She spent the days in getting ready her father's food,
Which was truly for her drunken father's good;
But one night he came home, reeling drunk,
And the poor child's heart with fear sunk;

And he cried, "You were at the door when I came up the lane;
Take that, you good-for-nothing slut; you're to blame
For not having my supper ready; you will find
That's no excuse, Sarah, because you are blind."

And with a stick he struck her as he spoke
Across the shoulders, until the stick almost broke;
Crying aloud, "I'll teach you better, you little sneak;"
And with the beating, Sarah's heart was like to break.

Poor little Sarah had never seen the snow;
She knew it was beautiful white, some children told her so;
And in December, when the snow began to fall,
She would go to the door and make a snowball.

One day she'd been very cheerless and alone,
Poor child, and so cold, almost chilled to the bone;
For her father had spent his wages in drink,
And for want of fire she was almost at death's brink.

Her face was pinched with hunger but she never complained,
And her little feet with cold were chilblained,
And her father that day had not come home for dinner,
And the dull grey sky was all of a shimmer.

So poor Sarah was very sick when her father came home;
So bad, little dear, that she did sigh and moan,
And when her father saw her in bed
He was heart-stricken with fear and dread.

So within a few days poor Sarah did die,
And for the loss of Sarah the drunken father did cry,
So the loss of his child soon converted him
From drinking either whiskey, rum or gin.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:27 min read
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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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    "The Blind Girl" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41874/the-blind-girl>.

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