From Today in Literature:
McGonagall's contemporaries report that they could find no irony in him, or any awareness of what was going on. Today, he is recognized as favorite son and official "Best Bad Poet" of Dundee. So bad that when Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers held a Worse-Than-McGonagall contest they were unable to find a winner, and so good that they made the movie The Great McGonagall (1974), with Milligan in the kilt.
I've never heard of that movie. Does anyone here remember it?
I really enjoyed this next paragraph:
So how bad? Many have tried to capture this. Some cannot get past his spelling and grammar; Chambers Biographical Dictionary refers to his "calypsolike disregard for metre": the editor of The Joy of Bad Verse likens the feeling of reading a McGonagall poem to "that of being driven unsteadily down a meandering road in a rattling old banger, which finally turns abruptly into a brick wall." Such judgements, placed against the poems themselves, show once again how poor a thing literary criticism can be. On the lesson provided by the collapse of the Tay Railway Bridge:...Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.
I don't believe any words were harmed in the making of this poem and the others, but I'll understand if some of you need to click away from this blog right now. Those with stronger stomachs may enjoy clicking over to McGonagall Online for lots more on the midguided McGonagall, who appears to have published 200 of these flaw-ridden gems in his lifetime.
Because I'm a romance writer, this one caught my eye. I'll share the first three stanzas of "Forget-Me-Not":
A gallant knight and his betroth'd bride,
Were walking one day by a river side,
They talk'd of love, and they talk'd of war,
And how very foolish lovers are.
At length the bride to the knight did say,
'There have been many young ladies led astray
By believing in all their lovers said,
And you are false to me I am afraid.'
'No, Ellen, I was never false to thee,
I never gave thee cause to doubt me;
I have always lov'd thee and do still,
And no other woman your place shall fill.'
If you're absolutely certain you want to know how this poem ends, look at this page at McGonagall Online.
Do any Scots read this blog? If so, please believe that I mean no offense when I ask: If these poems are read aloud in broad Scottish accents, does their meter improve at all?