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The Troubles of Matthew Mahoney

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

In a little town in Devonshire, in the mellow September moonlight,
A gentleman passing along a street saw a pitiful sight,
A man bending over the form of a woman on the pavement.
He was uttering plaintive words and seemingly discontent.

"What's the matter with the woman?" asked the gentleman,
As the poor, fallen woman he did narrowly scan.
"There's something the matter, as yer honour can see,
But it's not right to prate about my wife, blame me."

"Is that really your wife?" said the gentleman.
"Yes, sor, but she looks very pale and wan."
"But surely she is much younger than you?"
"Only fourteen years, sor, that is thrue."

"It's myself that looks a deal oulder nor I really am,
Throuble have whitened my heir, my good gintleman,
Which was once as black as the wings of a crow,
And it's throuble as is dyed it as white as the snow.

Come, my dear sowl, Bridget, it's past nine o'clock,
And to see yez lying there it gives my heart a shock."
And he smoothed away the raven hair from her forehead,
And her hands hung heavily as if she had been dead.

The gentleman saw what was the matter and he sighed again,
And he said, "It's a great trial and must give you pain,
But I see you are willing to help her all you can."
But the encouraging words was not lost upon the Irishman.

"Thrial!" he echoed, "Don't mintion it, yer honour,
But the blessing of God rest upon her.
Poor crathur, she's good barrin' this one fault,
And by any one I don't like to hear her miscault."

"What was the reason of her taking to drink?"
"Bless yer honour, that's jest what I oftentimes think,
Some things is done without any rason at all,
And, sure, this one to me is a great downfall.

'Ah, Bridget, my darlin', I never dreamt ye'd come to this,"
And stooping down, her cheek he did kiss.
While a glittering tear flashed in the moonlight to the ground,
For the poor husband's grief was really profound.

"Have you any children?" asked the gentleman.
"No, yer honour, bless the Lord, contented I am,
I wouldn't have the lambs know any harm o' their mother,
Besides, sor, to me they would be a great bother."

"What is your trade, my good man?"
"Gardening, sor, and mighty fond of it I am.
Kind sor, I am out of a job and I am dying with sorrow."
"Well, you can call at my house by ten o'clock to-morrow.

"And I'll see what I can do for you.
Now, hasten home with your wife, and I bid you adieu.
But stay, my good man, I did not ask your name."
"My name is Matthew Mahoney, after Father Matthew of great fame,"

Then Mahoney stooped and lifted Bridget tenderly,
And carried her home in his arms cheerfully,
And put her to bed while he felt quite content,
Still hoping Bridget would see the folly of drinking and repent.

And at ten o'clock next morning Matthew was at Blandford Hall,
And politely for Mr Gillespie he did call,
But he was told Mrs Gillespie he would see,
And was invited into the parlour cheerfully.

And when Mrs Gillespie entered the room
She said, "Matthew Mahoney, I suppose you want to know your doom.
Well, Matthew, tell your wife to call here to-morrow."
"I'll ax her, my lady, for my heart's full of sorrow."

So Matthew got his wife to make her appearance at Blandford Hall,
And, trembling, upon Mrs Gillespie poor Bridget did call,
And had a pleasant interview with Mrs Gillespie,
And was told she was wanted for a new lodge-keeper immediately.

"But, Bridget, my dear woman, you mustn't drink any more,
For you have got a good husband you ought to adore,
And Mr Gillespie will help you, I'm sure,
Because he is very kind to deserving poor."

And Bridget's repentance was hearty and sincere,
And by the grace of God she never drank whisky, rum, or beer,
And good thoughts come into her mind of Heaven above,
And Matthew Mahoney dearly does her love.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:35 min read

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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