Poems »

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.

FAVORITE (0 fans)

List of poems by William Topaz McGonagall 204 total

Death and Burial of Lord Tennyson
 130 ViewsRate it
The Tay Bridge Disaster
 129 ViewsRate it
Robert Burns 126 ViewsRate it
A Humble Heroine
 125 ViewsRate it
The Fair Maid of Perth's House
 125 ViewsRate it
The Late Sir John Ogilvy
 125 ViewsRate it
Oban
 123 ViewsRate it
The Summary History of Sir William Wallace
 122 ViewsRate it
A Tale of the Sea
 120 ViewsRate it
An Address to Shakespeare
 120 ViewsRate it
The Collision in the English Channel
 118 ViewsRate it
The Storming of the Dargai Heights
 118 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Balmerino
 117 ViewsRate it
Wreck of the Schooner Samuel Crawford
 116 ViewsRate it
A Tribute to Mr Murphy and the Blue Ribbon Army
 116 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Rothesay
 115 ViewsRate it
Lines in Praise of the Lyric Club Banquet
 115 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Bannockburn
 115 ViewsRate it
Annie Marshall the Foundling
 114 ViewsRate it
The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay
 114 ViewsRate it
Montrose
 113 ViewsRate it
The Burning of the People's Variety Theatre, Aberdeen
 113 ViewsRate it
The Funeral of the Late Prince Henry of Battenberg
 113 ViewsRate it
Bonnie Callander
 112 ViewsRate it
Loch Leven
 112 ViewsRate it
The Burial of Mr. Gladstone
 112 ViewsRate it
The Death of the Old Mendicant
 112 ViewsRate it
The Rattling Boy from Dublin 112 ViewsRate it
A Summary History of Lord Clive
 111 ViewsRate it
The Bonnie Sidlaw Hills
 111 ViewsRate it
The Battle of El-Teb
 110 ViewsRate it
The Demon Drink
 110 ViewsRate it
Balmoral Castle
 109 ViewsRate it
Calamity in London
 109 ViewsRate it
Forget-Me-Not
 109 ViewsRate it
Little Popeet - the Lost Child
 108 ViewsRate it
The Burns Statue 107 ViewsRate it
A New Temperance Poem, in Memory of My Departed Parents, Who Were Sober Living & God Fearing People
 107 ViewsRate it
Adventures of King Robert the Bruce
 107 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Barque Wm. Paterson of Liverpool
 107 ViewsRate it
Attempted Assassination of the Queen
 106 ViewsRate it
Hanchen, the Maid of the Mill
 106 ViewsRate it
Jenny Carrister, The Heroine of Lucknow-Mine
 106 ViewsRate it
Lines in Reply to the Beautiful Poet Who Welcomed News of McGonagall's Departure from Dundee 106 ViewsRate it
The Crucifixion of Christ
 106 ViewsRate it
The Death of the Rev. Dr. Wilson
 106 ViewsRate it
The Sorrows of the Blind
 106 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Crief
 105 ViewsRate it
Mary, the Maid o' the Tay
 105 ViewsRate it
The Inauguration of the University College
 105 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Balmoral
 104 ViewsRate it
Lines in Praise of Professor Blackie
 104 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Culloden
 104 ViewsRate it
The Kessack Ferry-Boat Fatality
 104 ViewsRate it
Grace Darling
 103 ViewsRate it
The Famous Tay Whale
 103 ViewsRate it
A Requisition to the Queen
 101 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Corunna
 101 ViewsRate it
The Hero of Rorke's Drift
 101 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Barque Lynton
 101 ViewsRate it
The Downfall of Delhi
 100 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Columbine
 100 ViewsRate it
Broughty Ferry
 99 ViewsRate it
Little Pierre's Song
 99 ViewsRate it
The Burning of the Steamer City of Montreal
 99 ViewsRate it
Bill Bowls the Sailor
 98 ViewsRate it
General Gordon, the Hero of Khartoum
 98 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Flodden Field
 98 ViewsRate it
McGonagall's Ode to the King
 97 ViewsRate it
The Death of Lord and Lady Dalhousie
 96 ViewsRate it
The Den o' Fowlis
 96 ViewsRate it
Captain Teach alias Black Beard
 95 ViewsRate it
Descriptive Jottings of London
 95 ViewsRate it
The Hero of Kalapore
 93 ViewsRate it
The Loss of the Victoria
 93 ViewsRate it
The Little Match Girl
 92 ViewsRate it
The Rebel Surprise Near Tamai
 92 ViewsRate it
An Address to the New Tay Bridge
 91 ViewsRate it
Grif, of the Bloody Hand
 91 ViewsRate it
Farewell Address at the Argyle Hall
 90 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Alexandria
 90 ViewsRate it
The Sprig of Moss
 89 ViewsRate it
A Tribute to Mr J. Graham Henderson, The World's Fair Judge 89 ViewsRate it
The Pennsylvania Disaster
 89 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Atbara
 88 ViewsRate it
A Descriptive Poem on the Silvery Tay
 87 ViewsRate it
The Burial of the Reverend Gilfillan
 87 ViewsRate it
The Irish Convict's Return
 87 ViewsRate it
The Relief of Mafeking
 87 ViewsRate it
Lord Robert's Triumphal Entry into Pretoria
 86 ViewsRate it
The Clepington Catastrophe
 86 ViewsRate it
Little Jamie
 85 ViewsRate it
The Great Franchise Demonstration
 83 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Omdurman
 82 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Nairn
 82 ViewsRate it
The Queen's Jubilee Celebrations
 82 ViewsRate it
A Tale of Christmas Eve
 81 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Thomas Dryden
 81 ViewsRate it
Lines in Memoriam Regarding the Entertainment in Reform Street Hall, Dundee
 80 ViewsRate it
The Albion Battleship Calamity
 80 ViewsRate it
The Funeral of the German Emperor
 80 ViewsRate it
The First Grenadier of France
 79 ViewsRate it
Edinburgh
 78 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Newport on the Braes o' the Silvery Tay
 77 ViewsRate it
The Troubles of Matthew Mahoney
 77 ViewsRate it
The Battle of the Nile
 75 ViewsRate it
Jack o' the Cudgel
 74 ViewsRate it
Jottings of New York
 74 ViewsRate it
The Inauguration of the Hill o' Balgay
 74 ViewsRate it
An Excursion Steamer Sunk in the Tay
 73 ViewsRate it
The Terrific Cyclone of 1893
 73 ViewsRate it
Burning of the Exeter Theatre
 71 ViewsRate it
The Beautiful City of Perth
 71 ViewsRate it
The Death of Prince Leopold
 71 ViewsRate it
A Tale of Elsinore
 70 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Sheriffmuir
 70 ViewsRate it
The Heatherblend Club Banquet
 70 ViewsRate it
Nora, the Maid of Killarney
 69 ViewsRate it
The Sunderland Calamity
 69 ViewsRate it
An Autumn Reverie
 67 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Abu Klea
 67 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Monikie
 66 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Whaler Oscar
 65 ViewsRate it
The Convict's Return
 64 ViewsRate it
The Destroying Angel
 64 ViewsRate it
The Execution of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose
 64 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Steamer Stella
 64 ViewsRate it
The Capture of Lucknow
 63 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Edinburgh
 62 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Torquay
 62 ViewsRate it
The Funeral of the Late Ex-Provost Rough, Dundee
 61 ViewsRate it
The River of Leith
 61 ViewsRate it
The Ancient Town of Leith
 60 ViewsRate it
Bonnie Dundee in 1878
 59 ViewsRate it
The Disastrous Fire at Scarborough
 59 ViewsRate it
A Tribute to Henry M. Stanley
 58 ViewsRate it
Loch Ness
 58 ViewsRate it
The Nithsdale Widow and Her Son
 57 ViewsRate it
The Moon
 57 ViewsRate it
The Great Yellow River Inundation in China
 55 ViewsRate it
To Mr James Scrymgeour, Dundee
 53 ViewsRate it
An Ode to the Queen on Her Jubilee Year
 52 ViewsRate it
The Tragic Death of the Rev. A.H. Mackonochie
 52 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Aberfoyle
 51 ViewsRate it
Glasgow
 51 ViewsRate it
The Burning of the Ship Kent
 51 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Steamer London
 51 ViewsRate it
Bonnie Kilmany
 50 ViewsRate it
General Roberts in Afghanistan
 50 ViewsRate it
Jack Honest, or the Widow and Her Son
 50 ViewsRate it
An Address to the Rev. George Gilfillan
 48 ViewsRate it
The Bonnie Lass o' Dundee
 48 ViewsRate it
Baldovan
 47 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Comrie
 47 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Waterloo
 47 ViewsRate it
Women's Suffrage
 47 ViewsRate it
The Death of Captain Ward
 46 ViewsRate it
Beautiful North Berwick
 45 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Shina, in Africa, Fought in 1800
 45 ViewsRate it
A Christmas Carol
 43 ViewsRate it
The Bonnie Lass o' Ruily
 43 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Steamer Mohegan
 43 ViewsRate it
An Adventure in the Life of King James V of Scotland
 42 ViewsRate it
Beautiful Village of Penicuik
 42 ViewsRate it
Lines in Defence of the Stage
 42 ViewsRate it
Richard Pigott, the Forger
 42 ViewsRate it
The Capture of Havana
 42 ViewsRate it
An All-Night Sea Fight
 41 ViewsRate it
The Castle of Mains
 41 ViewsRate it
John Rouat the Fisherman
 40 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Alma
 40 ViewsRate it
The Horrors of Majuba
 40 ViewsRate it
The Miraculous Escape of Robert Allan, the Fireman
 39 ViewsRate it
Lines in Praise of Tommy Atkins
 39 ViewsRate it
The Beautiful Sun
 37 ViewsRate it
The Newport Railway
 37 ViewsRate it
The Village of Tayport and Its Surroundings
 36 ViewsRate it
Greenland's Icy Mountains
 35 ViewsRate it
The Blind Girl
 34 ViewsRate it
Lines in Praise of Mr. J. Graham Henderson, Hawick
 34 ViewsRate it
The Black Watch Memorial
 34 ViewsRate it
The Last Berkshire Eleven
 33 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Steamer Storm Queen
 33 ViewsRate it
An Ode to the Queen
 32 ViewsRate it
Loch Katrine
 32 ViewsRate it
Saving a Train
 32 ViewsRate it
The Death of the Queen
 32 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Abercrombie Robinson
 32 ViewsRate it
Bonnie Montrose
 31 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Glencoe
 31 ViewsRate it
The Death of Fred Marsden, the American Playwright
 31 ViewsRate it
Lost in the Prairie
 30 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Inkermann
 30 ViewsRate it
A Soldier's Reprieve
 29 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Cressy
 28 ViewsRate it
The Ashantee War
 27 ViewsRate it
The Christmas Goose
 27 ViewsRate it
A New Year's Resolution to Leave Dundee 25 ViewsRate it
The Royal Review
 25 ViewsRate it
The Wreck of the Indian Chief
 25 ViewsRate it
Young Munro the Sailor
 24 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Tel-el-Kebir
 22 ViewsRate it
A Tribute to Dr. Murison
 21 ViewsRate it
The Battle of Gujrat
 21 ViewsRate it

Share your thoughts on William Topaz McGonagall's poems with the community:

0 Comments

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poet to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "William Topaz McGonagall" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 5 Mar. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poet/William+Topaz+McGonagall>.

    Missing a poem of William Topaz McGonagall?

    Know another great poem from William Topaz McGonagall? Don't keep it to yourself!

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    A haiku has ________ lines.
    • A. 5
    • B. 4
    • C. 3
    • D. 2