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The Burial of Mr. Gladstone

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

Alas! the people now do sigh and moan
For the loss of Wm. Ewart Gladstone,
Who was a very great politician and a moral man,
And to gainsay it there's few people can.

'Twas in the year of 1898, and on the 19th of May,
When his soul took its flight for ever and aye,
And his body was interred in Westminster Abbey;
But I hope his soul has gone to that Heavenly shore,
Where all trials and troubles cease for evermore.

He was a man of great intellect and genius bright,
And ever faithful to his Queen by day and by night,
And always foremost in a political fight;
And for his services to mankind, God will him requite.

The funeral procession was affecting to see,
Thousands of people were assembled there, of every degree;
And it was almost eleven o'clock when the procession left Westminster Hall,
And the friends of the deceased were present- physicians and all.

A large force of police was also present there,
And in the faces of the spectators there was a pitiful air,
Yet they were orderly in every way,
And newspaper boys were selling publications without delay.

Present in the procession was Lord Playfair,
And Bailie Walcot was also there,
Also Mr Macpherson of Edinboro-
And all seemingly to be in profound sorrow.

The supporters of the coffin were the Earl Rosebery,
And the Right Honourable Earl of Kimberley,
And the Right Honourable Sir W. Vernon he was there,
And His Royal Highness the Duke of York, I do declare.

George Armitstead, Esq., was there also,
And Lord Rendal, with his heart full of woe;
And the Right Honourable Duke of Rutland,
And the Right Honourable Arthur J. Balfour, on the right hand;
Likewise the noble Marquis of Salisbury,
And His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, of high degree.

And immediately behind the coffin was Lord Pembroke,
The representative of Her Majesty, and the Duke of Norfolk,
Carrying aloft a beautiful short wand,
The insignia of his high, courtly office, which looked very grand.

And when the procession arrived at the grave,
Mrs Gladstone was there,
And in her countenance was depicted a very grave air;
And the dear, good lady seemed to sigh and moan
For her departed, loving husband, Wm. Ewart Gladstone.

And on the opposite side of her stood Lord Pembroke,
And Lord Salisbury, who wore a skull cap and cloak;
Also the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Rutland,
And Mr Balfour and Lord Spencer, all looking very bland.

And the clergy were gathered about the head of the grave,
And the attention of the spectators the Dean did crave;
Then he said, "Man that is born of woman hath a short time to live,
But, Oh, Heavenly Father! do thou our sins forgive."

Then Mrs Gladstone and her two sons knelt down by the grave,
Then the Dean did the Lord's blessing crave,
While Mrs Gladstone and her some knelt,
While the spectators for them great pity felt.

The scene was very touching and profound,
To see all the mourners bending their heads to the ground,
And, after a minute's most silent prayer,
The leave-taking at the grave was affecting, I do declare.

Then Mrs Gladstone called on little Dorothy Drew,
And immediately the little girl to her grandmamma flew,
And they both left the grave with their heads bowed down,
While tears from their relatives fell to the ground.

Immortal Wm. Ewart Gladstone! I must conclude my muse,
And to write in praise of thee my pen does not refuse-
To tell the world, fearlessly, without the least dismay,
You were the greatest politician in your day.

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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 Burial of Mr. Gladstone" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41878/the-burial-of-mr.-gladstone>.

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