Scottish Poetry Selection
- Descriptive Jottings of London
When William Topaz McGonagall (1830-1902) failed to convince the citizens of Dundee that he was a genius at writing poetry (many considered him to be the "worst poet in the world") he went off to London in the summer of 1880 to seek fame and fortune. While there, he was inspired (of course) to write about what he saw. But he didn't stay long. After trying to find somewhere to perform his masterpieces (as he saw them), he got back on the boat to Dundee after three days.
In recent years, McGonagall's eccentric scansion and forced rhyming - as well as his keen descriptive eye for detail (and digression) - have created a large number of fans who enjoy the (unintended) humour of this enthusiastic poet.
Descriptive Jottings of LondonAs I stood upon London Bridge and viewed the mighty throng
Of thousands of people in cabs and 'busses rapidly whirling along,
All furiously driving to and fro,
Up one street and down another as quick as they could go:
Then I was struck with the discordant sound of human voices there,
Which seemed to me like wild geese cackling in the air:
And the river Thames is a most beautiful sight,
To see the steamers sailing upon it by day and by night.
And the Tower of London is most gloomy to behold,
And the crown of England lies there, begemmed with precious stones and gold;
King Henry the Sixth was murdered there by the Duke of Glo'ster,
And when he killed him with his sword he called him an impostor.
St. Paul's Cathedral is the finest building that ever I did see;
There's nothing can surpass it in the city of Dundee,
Because it's most magnificent to behold
With its beautiful dome and spire glittering like gold.
And as for Nelson's Monument that stands in Trafalgar Square,
It is a most stately monument I most solemnly declare,
And towering defiantly very high,
Which arrests strangers' attention while passing by.
Then there's two beautiful water-fountains spouting up very high,
Where the weary travellers can drink when he feels dry;
And at the foot of the monument there's three bronze lions in grand array,
Enough to make the stranger's heart throb with dismay.
Then there's Mr Spurgeon, a great preacher, which no one dare gainsay
I went to hear him preach on the Sabbath-day.
And he made my heart feel light and gay
When I heard him preach and pray.
And the Tabernacle was crowded from ceiling to floor,
And many were standing outside the door;
He is an eloquent preacher, I solemnly declare,
And I was struck with admiration as I on him did stare.
Then there's Petticoat Lane I venture to say,
It's a wonderful place on the Sabbath day;
There wearing apparel can be bought to suit the young or old
For the ready cash - silver, coppers, or gold.
Oh! mighty city of London! you are wonderful to see,
And thy beauties no doubt fill the tourist's heart with glee;
But during my short stay, and while wandering there,
Mr Spurgeon was the only man I heard speaking proper English I do declare.
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
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