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To Mr James Scrymgeour, Dundee

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

Success to James Scrymgeour,
He's a very good man,
And to gainsay it,
There's few people can;

Because he makes the hearts
Of the poor o'erjoyed
By trying to find work for them
When they're unemployed.

And to their complaints
He has always an attentive ear,
And ever ready to help them
When unto him they draw near.

And no matter what your occupation is.
Or what is your creed.
He will try to help you
In the time of need;

Because he has the fear
Of God within his heart,
And the man that fears God
Always takes the poor's part.

And blessed is the man
That is kind to the poor;
For his reward in heaven,
'Tis said in the Scripture, is sure.

And I hope heaven will be
Mr James Sctymgeour's reward;
For his struggles on behalf of the poor
Are really vexatious and hard.

For he is to be seen daily
Walking along our streets,
With a Christian-looking countenance,
And a kind word to all he meets.

Besides, he is void of all pride,
And wouldn't feel ashamed
To be seen with a beggar
Or a tinker walking by his side.

Fellow-citizens of Dundee,
Isn't it really very nice
To think of James Scrymgeour trying
To rescue fallen creatures from the paths of vice?

And in the winter he tries to provide
Hot dinners for the poor children of Dundee,
Who are starving with hunger no doubt,
And in the most abject poverty.

He is a little deaf, no doubt,
But not deaf to the cries of hungry men,
No! he always tries to do his best
To procure bread for them.

And at the Sabbath-morning free-breakfasts
He is often seen there,
Administering to the wants of the hungry,
And joining in prayer.

He is a man of noble principles,
As far as 1 can think,
And the noblest principle he has got
Is, he abhors the demon drink.

And, in my opinion, he is right
As far as I can see,
And I hereby proclaim that such a man
Is an honour to Dundee:

Because he is always working
For the poor people's good.
Kind soul, trying hard
To procure for them clothing and food

Success to him and his family.
And may God them defend:
Why? fellow citizens of Dundee,
Because he is the poor man's friend.

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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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    "To Mr James Scrymgeour, Dundee" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41958/to-mr-james-scrymgeour,-dundee>.

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