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The Death of the Rev. Dr. Wilson

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

'Twas in the year of 1888 and on the 17th of January
That the late Rev. Dr. Wilson's soul fled away;
The generous-hearted Dr. had been ailing for some time,
But death, with his dart, did pierce the heart of the learned divine.

He was a man of open countenance and of great ability,
And late minister of Free St. Paul's Church, Dundee,
And during the twenty-nine years he remained as minister in Dundee
He struggled hard for the well-being of the community.

He was the author of several works concerning great men,
In particular the Memoirs of Dr. Candlish and Christ turning His face towards Jerusalem;
Which is well worthy of perusal, I'm sure,
Because the style is concise and the thoughts clear and pure.

And as for his age, he was in his eightieth year,
And has left a family of one son and five daughters dear,
And for his loss they will shed many a tear,
Because in their hearts they loved him most dear.

He was a man of a very kindly turn,
And many of his old members for him will mourn,
Because as a preacher he was possessed of courage bold,
Just like one of Covenanting heroes of old.

But I hope he is landed safe on Canaan's bright shore,
To sing with bright angels for evermore
Around that golden throne where God's family doth meet
To sing songs night and day, most sacred and sweet.

The coffin containing the remains was brought on Tuesday evening from Edinboro,
And as the relatives witnessed its departure their hearts were full of sorrow,
And the remains were laid inside Free St. Paul's Church, Dundee,
And interred on Wednesday in the Western Cemetery.

The funeral service began at half-past one o'clock in the afternoon,
And with people the church was filled very soon,
And the coffin was placed in the centre of the platform,
And the lid was covered with wreaths which did the coffin adorn.

There were beautiful wreaths from the grandchildren of the deceased,
Whom I hope is now from all troubles released
Also there were wreaths from Mrs and Miss Young, Windsor Street, Dundee,
Which certainly were most beautiful to see.

Besides the tributes of Miss Morrison and Miss H. Morrison were a beautiful sight,
Also the tributes of Miss Strong and Mr I. Martin White,
Also Mrs and the Misses Henderson's, West Park, Dundee,
Besides the Misses White Springrove were magnificent to me.

The members and office-bearers of the church filled the pews on the right,
Which was a very impressive and solemn sight;
And psalms and hymns were sung by the congregation,
And the Rev. W. I. Cox concluded the service with great veneration.

Then the coffin was carried from the church and placed in the hearse,
While the congregation allowed the friends to disperse,
Then followed the congregation without delay,
Some to join the procession, while others went home straightaway.

The procession consisted of the hearse and 47 carriages no less,
Which were drawn up in the Nethergate, I do confess,
And as the cortege passed slowly along the Nethergate,
Large crowds watched the procession and ungrudgingly did wait.

And when the hearse reached the cemetery the Rev. R. Waterson offered up a prayer,
Then the coffin was lowered into the grave by the pall-bearers there;
'Twas then the friends began to my for their sorrow was profound,
Then along with the people assembled there they left the burying-ground.

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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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    "The Death of the Rev. Dr. Wilson" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41898/the-death-of-the-rev.-dr.-wilson>.

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