William Topaz McGonagall
(1830 - 1902)
William Topaz McGonagall was an eccentric figure who was born in Edinburgh. He later moved to Dundee where he remained for much of his life. He was revered as "The World's Worst Poet" composing such rhymes as "The Tay Bridge Disaster". However he was very well read and was conversant with the works of Shakespeare, Scott, Burns and other well known writers.
At long last, in the year 2002 - 100 years after his death, the City of Dundee are honouring McGonagall, by prominently displaying in stone, his famous poem about the River Tay.
McGonagall's poetry bequeathed to the Scots the gift of humorous expression, the ability to see the funny side of things and a reminder to not take life too seriously.
This is well demonstrated by many of his poems beginning with the word 'Beautiful' e.g. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Loch Katrine. His poems about the River Tay frequently use that word.
As a result of popular demand, we have published to the web site, McGonagall's trilogy of poems on The Tay Bridge.
Do you have what it takes to be crowned Scotland's Worst Poet? You may discover that you have a flair which matches the poetic 'greatness' of William McGonagall? If so, why not send us your own poetic attempts by clicking on the Submit Poem link?
Here is a comment from a resident of Dundee. Is this the final insult to the great man, or is there something more subtle intended by Dundee City Council? Let us know what you think about it. Send your comments to the webmaster, and we will take it from there.
"Beatiful Bridge o'er the Silvery Tay"
by Ned McNed
Oh woe is me, I am sore vex'd
I have just espied words and text
Of W'm M'gonagall's greatest rhyme
It's words have stood the test of time
Longer than the bridge o'er the Tay
As I notic'ed yesterday
Upon the ground and cast in c'ment
For those tourists of lit'ry bent
Dundee Council have left a terr'r
Mispelt in every verse I fear
For 'beautiful' does not appear
But "beatiful" rather. What an err'r!
Inspired by whoever in Dundee City Council thought that writing the poem in concrete on the Riverside promenade, without getting someone to proof-read it first, would be a good idea.
Honestly! It has to be seen to be believed (and if I get a digital camera down there quickly enough - it will be!!!!)
A Fuller List of McGonagall Poems
- A Descriptive Poem on the Silvery Tay
- An Address to the New Tay Bridge
- Balmoral Castle
- Beautiful Aberfoyle
- Beautiful Balmerino
- Beautiful Balmoral
- Beautiful Comrie
- Beautiful Crieff
- Beautiful Edinburgh
- Beautiful Monikie
- Beautiful Nairn
- Beautiful Newport on the Braes o' the Silvery Tay
- Beautiful North Berwick
- Beautiful Rothesay
- Beautiful Torquay
- Beautiful Village of Penicuik
- Bonnie Callander
- Bonnie Dundee in 1878
- Bonnie Kilmany
- Bonnie Montrose
- Broughty Ferry
- Descriptive Jottings of London
- Greenlands Icy Mountains
- Jottings of New York
- Loch Katrine
- Loch Leven
- Loch Ness
- The Ancient Town of Leith
- The Beautiful City of Perth
- The Bonnie Sidlaw Hills
- The Castle of Mains
- The City of Perth
- The Den o' Fowlis
- The Fair Maid of Perth's House
- The Newport Railway
- The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay
- The River of Leith
- The Village of Tayport and its Surroundings