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The Funeral of the Late Ex-Provost Rough, Dundee

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

'Twas in the year of 1888, and on the 19th of November,
Which the friends of the late Ex-Provost Rough will long remember,
Because 'twas on the 19th of November his soul took its flight
To the happy land above, the land of pure delight.

Take him for all in all, he was a very good man,
And during his Provostship he couldn't be equalled in Great Britain,
Which I proclaim to the world without any dread,
Because while Provost he reduced the public-houses to three hundred.

Whereas at the time there were 620 public-houses in the town,
But being a friend of the temperance cauae he did frown,
Because he saw the evils of intemperance every day
While sitting on the bench, so he resolved to sweep public-houses away.

And in doing so the good man, in my opinion, was right,
Because the evils of intemperance is an abomination in God's sight;
And all those that get drunk are enemies to Him,
Likewise enemies to Christ's kingdom, which is a great sin.

The late Ex-Provost Rough was President of the Dundee Temperance Society,
An office which he filled with great ability;
Besides Vice-President of the Scottish Temperance League for many years,
And no doubt the friends of temperance for his loss will shed tears.

Because many a hungry soul he relieved while in distress,
And for doing so I hope the Lord will him bless,
For his kindness towards the poor people in Dundee,
Besides for his love towards the temperance cause, and his integrity.

And when the good man's health began to decline
The doctor ordered him to take each day two glasses of wine,
But he soon saw the evil of it, and from it he shrunk,
The noble old patriarch, for fear of getting drunk.

And although the doctor advised him to continue taking the wine,
Still the hero of the temperance cause did decline,
And told the doctor he wouldn't of wine take any more,
So in a short time his spirit fled to heaven, where all troubles are o'er.

I'm sure very little good emanates from strong drink,
And many people, alas! it leads to hell's brink!
Some to the scaffold, and some to a pauper's grave,
Whereas if they would abstain from drink, Christ would them save.

'Twas on Friday afternoon, in November the 23rd day,
That the funeral cortege to the Western Cemetery wended its way,
Accompanied by the Magistrates, and amongst those present were-
Bailie Macdonald and Bailie Black, also Lord Provost Hunter I do declare.

There were also Bailie Foggie, Bailie Craig, and Bailie Stephenson,
And Ex-Provost Moncur, and Ex-Provost Ballingall representing the Royal Orphan Institution;
Besides there were present the Rev. J. Jenkins and the Rev. J. Masson,
With grief depicted in their faces and seemingly woe-begone.

There were also Mr Henry Adams, representing the Glover trade,
Also Mr J. Carter, who never was afraid
To denounce strong drink, and to warn the people from it to flee,
While agent of the Temperance Society in Dundee.

And when the funeral cortege arrived at the Western burying-ground,
Then the clergyman performed the funeral service with a solemn sound;
While from the eyes of the spectators fell many a tear
For the late Ex-Provost Rough they loved so dear.

And when the coffin was lowered into its house of clay,
Then the friends of the deceased homewards wended their way,
Conversing on the good qualities of the good man,
Declaring that the late Ex-Provost Rough couldn't be equalled in Great Britain.

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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 Funeral of the Late Ex-Provost Rough, Dundee" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41909/the-funeral-of-the-late-ex-provost-rough,-dundee>.

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