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The Bonnie Lass o' Ruily

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

'Twas in the village of Ruily there lived a bonnie lass
With red, pouting lips which few lasses could surpass,
And her eyes were as azure the blue sky,
Which caused Donald McNeill to heave many a love sigh

Beyond the township of Ruily she never had been,
This pretty maid with tiny feet and aged eighteen;
And when Donald would ask her to be his wife,
"No," she would say, "I'm not going to stay here all my life."

"I'm sick of this life," she said to Donald one day,
"By making the parridge and carrying peats from the bog far away."
"Then marry me, Belle, and peats you shall never carry again,
And we might take a trip to Glasgow and there remain."

Then she answered him crossly, "I wish you wouldn't bother me,
For I'm tired of this kind of talk, as you may see."
So at last there came a steamer to Ruily one day,
So big that if almost seemed to fill the bay.

Then Belle and Effie Mackinnon came to the door with a start,
While Belle's red, pouting lips were wide apart;
But when she saw the Redcoats coming ashore
She thought she had never seen such splendid men before.

One day after the steamer "Resistless" had arrived,
Belle's spirits seemed suddenly to be revived;
And as Belle was lifting peats a few feet from the door
She was startled by a voice she never heard before.

The speaker wore a bright red coat and a small cap,
And she thought to herself he is a handsome chap;
Then the speaker said, "'Tis a fine day," and began to flatter,
Until at last he asked Belle for a drink of watter.

Then she glanced up at him shyly, while uneasy she did feel,
At the thought of having to hoist the peat-creel;
And she could see curly, fair hair beneath his cap,
Still, she thought to herself, he is a good-looking chap.

And his eyes were blue and sparkling as the water in the bay,
And he spoke in a voice that was pleasant and gay;
Then he took hold of the peat-creel as he spoke,
But Belle only laughed and considered it a joke.

Then Belle shook her head and lifted the peats on her back,
But he followed her home whilst to her he did crack;
And by and by she brought him a drink of watter,
While with loving words he began Belle to flatter.

And after he had drank the watter and handed back the jug,
He said, "You are the sweetest flower that's to be found in Ruily";
And he touched her bare arm as he spoke,
Which proved to be sailor Harry's winning stroke.

But it would have been well for Belle had it ended there,
But it did not, for the sailor followed her, I do declare;
And he was often at old Mackinnon's fireside,
And there for hours on an evening he would abide.

And Belle would wait on him with love-lit eyes,
While Harry's heart would heave with many love sighs.
At last, one night Belle said, "I hear you're going away."
Then Harry Lochton said, "'Tis true, Belie, and I must obey.

But, my heather Belle, if you'll leave Ruily with me
I'll marry you, with your father's consent, immediately."
Then she put her arms around his neck and said, "Harry, I will."
Then Harry said, "You'll be a sailor's wife for good or ill."

In five days after Belie got married to her young sailor lad,
And there was a grand wedding, and old Mackinnon felt glad;
And old Mackinnon slapped his son-in-law on the back
And said, "I hope good health and money you will never lack."

At last the day came that Harry had to go away,
And Harry said, "God bless you, Belle, by night and day;
But you will come to Portsmouth and I will meet you there,
Remember, at the railway platform, and may God of you take care."

And when she arrived in Portsmouth she was amazed at the sight,
But when she saw Harry her heart beat with delight;
And when the train stopped, Harry to her quickly ran,
And took her tin-box from the luggage van.

Then he took her to her new home without delay,
And the endless stairs and doors filled her heart with dismay;
But for that day the hours flew quickly past,
Because she knew she was with her Harry at last.

But there came a day when Harry was ordered away,
And he said, "My darling, I'll come back some unexpected day."
Then he kissed her at parting and "Farewell" he cries,
While the tears fell fast from her bonnie blue eyes.

Then when Harry went away she grew very ill,
And she cried, "If Harry stays long away this illness will me kill."
At last Harry came home and found her i
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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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    "The Bonnie Lass o' Ruily" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41876/the-bonnie-lass-o'-ruily>.

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