21 May 2009

Let’s get McGonagall on a stamp!

The Gem of the Day service from McGonagall Online is a treasure. Every morning one of William Topaz’s fine poetic works is sent direct to my inbox for my delight and utter delectation.

It was only today that I noticed that there is a petition for McGonagall to be commemorated on a Royal Mail stamp.The text reads as follows:

"We the undersigned urge the Royal Mail to release a commemorative stamp to honour the memory of Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall (1825-1902). Mr. McGonagall was an exemplar of optimism, having travelled on foot over fifty miles to petition Queen Victoria for the position of Poet Laureate, despite being unburdened with even the most basic understanding of fundamental poetic principles such as scansion. Nonetheless his poems, principal among them his masterwork “The Tay Bridge Disaster”, remain with us today, overshadowing the works of many more technically gifted poets of his time. His life stands as a testament to the irrepressible nature of the human spirit, and we ask you to make this gesture in celebration of the life of one of the greatest eccentrics Britain has ever known. "

Hear, hear, I say! McGonagall was a wonder of his age and deserves far greater recognition. I will be putting my name to this wonderful petition forthwith. I would urge poetry lovers everywhere -especially lovers of bad poetry - to do the same.

If you are unfamiliar with his work here is the jewel in his crown, so to speak.

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say-
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill'd all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav'd to tell the tale
How the disaster happen'd on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the 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


Kay Dennison said...

Can a citizen from across the pond vote? I think 'tis a fine, fine idea.

jams o donnell said...

I'm sure every vote will be wrlcome Kay!

jams o donnell said...

welcome too!

Sean Jeating said...

Poetry at its peak,
each word of praise
would be too weak.

Sean Jeating said...

[As it can't be repeated often enough]

Never I should exaggerate,
thus take for granted what I state:

It's a shame
that criticaster
would dare to blame
such genial master
who earneth fame
for all his words.

It really hurts.

A statue for McGonagall
demandeth here McSeanagall
Well, and a stamp
for this great champ!

god-free morals said...

I not sure if this is true, but I heard that McGonagall once played Macbeth in a stage production and brought his usual enthusiasm to the role. So much so, that when the time came for him to be killed by Macduff he refused and continued to fight until the other actor gave up.

jams o donnell said...

Bravo McSeanagall!

God-free I understand that the story is true. I would love to have seen the performance!

James Higham said...

He was most certainly without peer.