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William Topaz McGonagall
(1830 - 1902)

William Topaz McGonagall

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
June 2003

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!!!!)

Examples of McGonagall's Poems

  1. An Address to the New Tay Bridge
  2. An Ode to the Queen on her Jubilee Day
  3. Edinburgh
  4. Glasgow
  5. Robert Burns
  6. The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay
  7. The Tay Bridge Disaster

A Fuller List of McGonagall Poems

  1. A Descriptive Poem on the Silvery Tay
  2. An Address to the New Tay Bridge
  3. Baldovan
  4. Balmoral Castle
  5. Beautiful Aberfoyle
  6. Beautiful Balmerino
  7. Beautiful Balmoral
  8. Beautiful Comrie
  9. Beautiful Crieff
  10. Beautiful Edinburgh
  11. Beautiful Monikie
  12. Beautiful Nairn
  13. Beautiful Newport on the Braes o' the Silvery Tay
  14. Beautiful North Berwick
  15. Beautiful Rothesay
  16. Beautiful Torquay
  17. Beautiful Village of Penicuik
  18. Bonnie Callander
  19. Bonnie Dundee in 1878
  20. Bonnie Kilmany
  21. Bonnie Montrose
  22. Broughty Ferry
  23. Descriptive Jottings of London
  24. Edinburgh
  25. Glasgow
  26. Greenlands Icy Mountains
  27. Jottings of New York
  28. Loch Katrine
  29. Loch Leven
  30. Loch Ness
  31. Montrose
  32. Oban
  33. The Ancient Town of Leith
  34. The Beautiful City of Perth
  35. The Bonnie Sidlaw Hills
  36. The Castle of Mains
  37. The City of Perth
  38. The Den o' Fowlis
  39. The Fair Maid of Perth's House
  40. The Newport Railway
  41. The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay
  42. The River of Leith
  43. The Village of Tayport and its Surroundings

Who are the Scots?

Flora MacDonald
(1722 - 1790)
A native of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, who assisted Bonnie Prince Charlie to safety during the 1745 Rebellion. She emigrated to North Carolina, USA where she actively recruited expatriate Scots to fight for the British in the American War of Independence.

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