Review of "William McGonagall"

published 29/11/2004 | drewish
Member since : 15/11/2004
Reviews : 166
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Pro Unintentionally hilarious poetry
Cons Eye-wateringly bad scansion and appalling themes - great in small doses, but not for prolonged reading

"Probably the worst poetry in the world."

McGonagall's poetry is hilariously funny. It completely ignores all the basic rules of writing poetry, and combines this with Victorian melodrama. Widely hailed as the worst poet ever, his works are still in print and easy to find.

Here is an excerpt from "Saving a Train":

But the breaking of the car stops the train,
And poor Carl's struggle is not in vain;
But, poor soul, he was found stark dead,
Crushed and mangled from foot to head!

And the passengers were all loud in Carl's praise,
And from the cold wet ground they did him raise,
And tears for brave Carl fell silently around,
Because he had saved two hundred passengers from being drowned.

This shows some typical McGonagalesque traits: the heroic rescue with gory details to add drama, the simple, cliched vocabulary and the triumphantly bad scansion of the final line. Truly inspired.

McGonagall was actually a hand-loom weaver by trade, who suddenly decided that he would become a poet. His complete lack of discernible talent was no obstacle to this, and he repeatedly tried to present his poetry to Queen Victoria, offering his services as Poet Laureate (even though Wordsworth had the job pretty much sewn up at the time).

His poetry is so bad it makes you cringe in pain and laugh helplessly out loud. Well worth a read.

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Comments on this review

  • magdadh published 30/11/2004
    I am a fan. The Tay Bridge disaster is a goodie.
  • ElizaF published 30/11/2004
    Perhaps I am being thinck or forgetful but wasn't Mr. W. McGonagall an invention of one Spike Milligan (rip)? :) xx E.
  • steerpyke published 29/11/2004
    almost as bad as Vogon poetry.."oh freddled gruntbugglies, thy miturations are to me as lurgid..." well you know the rest...Dave
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Product Information : William McGonagall

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Product Details

Type: Writer's corner

Genre: Authors

Author: William McGonagall


Listed on Ciao since: 03/04/2003