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The Storming of the Dargai Heights

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

'Twas on the 20th of November, and in the year of 1897,
That the cheers of the Gordon Highlanders ascended to heaven,
As they stormed the Dargai heights without delay,
And made the Indian rebels fly in great dismay.

"Men of the Gordon Highlanders," Colonel Mathias said,
"Now, my brave lads, who never were afraid,
Our General says ye must take Dargai heights to-day;
So, forward, and charge them with your bayonets without dismay!"

Then with a ringing cheer, and at the word of command,
They bounded after their leaders, and made a bold stand;
And, dashing across the open ground with their officers at their head,
They drove the enemy from their position without any dread.

In that famous charge it was a most beautiful sight
To see the regimental pipers playing with all their might;
But, alas! one of them was shot through both ankles, and fell to the ground,
But still he played away while bullets fell on every side around.

Oh! it must have been a gorgeous sight that day,
To see two thousand Highlanders dressed up in grand array,
And to hear the pibroch sounding loud and clear
While the Highlanders rushed upon the foe with a loud cheer.

The Gordon Highlanders have gained a lasting fame
Which for ages to come will long remain :
The daring gallantry they displayed at the storming of Dargai,
Which will be handed down to posterity.

Methinks I see that gallant and heroic band
When brave Colonel Mathias gave them the command,
As they rushed upon the rebel horde, which was their desire,
Without the least fear through a sheet of fire.

Then the rebels fled like frightened sprites,
And the British were left masters of the Dargai heights;
But, alas! brave Captain Robinson was mortally wounded and cut down,
And for his loss many tears from his comrades fell to the ground.

Success to the Gordon Highlanders wherever they go.
May they always be enabled to conquer the foe;
And may God guard them always in the fight,
And give them always strength to put their enemies to flight.

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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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