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The Inauguration of the Hill o' Balgay

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

Beautiful Hill o' Balgay,
With your green frees and flowers fair,
'Tis health for the old and young
For to be walking there,
To breathe the fragrant air
Emanating from the green bushes
And beautiful flowers there,
Then they can through the burying-ground roam,
And read the epitaphs on the tombstones
Before they go home.
There the lovers can wander safe arm in arm,
For policemen are there to protect them from harm
And to watch there all day,
So that no accident can befall them
In the Hill o' Balgay.
Then there's Harry Scott's mansion,
Most beautiful to be seen,
Also the Law Hill, likewise the Magdalen Green,
And the silvery Tay,
Rolling on its way.
And the coast of Fife,
And the beautiful town of St. Andrews,
Where Cardinal Beaten lost his life;
And to be seen on a clear summer day,
From the top of the beautiful Hill o' Balgay.
On the opening day of the Hill o' Balgay,
It was a most beautiful sight to see
Numerous bands, with flags and banners, assembled in Dundee,
All in grand procession, with spirits light, that day,
March'd out the Blackness Road to the Hill o' Balgay.
The Earl o' Dalhousie was there on the opening day,
Also Harry Scott, the young laird o' Balgay,
And he made a great speech to the people there,
And they applauded him with cries that rent the air.
The Earl o' Dalhousie made a fine speech in his turn,
And said there was only one thing that caus'd him to mourn,-
There was no profection from the rain in the Hill o' Balgay,
And he would give another five hundred pounds away
For to erect a shed for the people upon a rainy day,
To keep them dry and comfortable on the Hill o' Balgay.
Then the people applauded him with three loud cheers,
For their hearts were all opened, and flowed with joyous tears,
So they all dispers'd quietly with spirits light that day,
And that ended the inauguration of the Hill o' Balgay.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:45 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…

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    "The Inauguration of the Hill o' Balgay" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41917/the-inauguration-of-the-hill-o'-balgay>.

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