27 September 2008

James McIntyre - Canada's poet laureate of Cheese


When it comes to bad poetry, Willam Topaz McGonagall is arguably the king. However it does not mean that he is not without challengers. One of the prime contenders must be James McIntyre.

Born in Forres, Scotland in 1828 McIntyre moved to Canada at the age of 14, settling first in St Catherines and later Ingersoll, Ontario. Ingersoll which was then the heart of the Canadian dairy country. It was Ingersoll's major industry that inspired McIntyre to write poetry, including this masterpiece which was written to celebrate a 7,000lb cheese produced 1866:


We have seen the Queen of cheese,
Laying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze --
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial Show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees --
Or as the leaves upon the trees --
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivalled Queen of Cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great World's show at Paris.

Of the youth -- beware of these --
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek; then songs or glees
We could not sing o' Queen of Cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from baloon,
You'd cast a shade, even at noon;
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon

McIntyre was a well loved member of the Ingersoll community. His poetry continues to be celebrated to this day in the form of an annnual poetry contest. It is not too late to submit entries for the 2008 contest if you feel so inspired. The closing date is 9 October.


Nunyaa said...

Isn't it ironic that he gets remembered for pieces that are not so good and now still after his death? His poetry may be not up to scratch but at least he is remembered and written about lol.

jams o donnell said...

He's like McGonagall, celebrated for being so bad he's brilliant. I'm so glad that his home town hold him in affection.

Steve Bates said...

What fun! At least McIntyre, unlike McGonagall, seems not to have taken himself too seriously. Those of us who write doggerel fare better if we don't. I'll wager McIntyre was the happier of the two.

jams o donnell said...

It's nice to see that he was and remains so well loved in his home town. As for McG, I get the feeling that he played things up a for his audience. It's great to see that William Topaz was not alone.

And there's far worse to come!