World waits to hear McGonagall's lost poems
TWO "lost" poems by William Topaz McGonagall are to be recited in public for the first time in at least a century.
The poems, composed by the "poet and tragedian" while he was a struggling weaver in Dundee and being ridiculed as the worst poet in the English language, will be read in public as part of the annual Ig Nobel awards show, a celebration of achievements and research that make you laugh but also make you think.
They are among an estimated 40 verses written by McGonagall, the undisputed master of the world's worst verse, but never published in any of the anthologies of his works. The poems were unearthed last year by journalist and historian Dr Norman Watson while he was researching his biography of the infamous bard.
Dr Jon Urch, public outreach co-ordinator at Dundee University who is helping to organise the awards ceremony in the city, has been given the onerous task of choosing the two poems to be recited. And he admitted yesterday he was spoiled for choice.
He said: "There will be two readings on the evening, but I haven't made a decision on that yet. I have five poems I am considering which include a poem on the launching of a lifeboat in Dundee, a horse parade in Dundee in 1893 to celebrate the wedding of the Duke of York and Princess Nay and one where he was invited to speak at the St Andrews Liberal Association at their famous annual dinner in which he basically writes of how fantastic his hosts were and that the hotel he stayed in was wonderful. And there is one abut Stirling Castle and another about a stately home he visited."
Dr Urch expects worldwide interest in the public recitations, to take place in the Dalhousie Building at Dundee University on 19 March. Arrangements are already being made for overflow theatres, using a live video link to the main auditorium.
He said: "McGonagall has followers all over the world. I am one of his fans and at last year's event we finished by reading the final lines of the Tay Bridge Disaster, his most famous poem."
Dr Watson said McGonagall would be "tickled pink" by the fuss over his lost works. During research for his book, he unearthed about 40 complete poems or fragments of verse that had never been published in any of McGonagall's collections.SNEAK PREVIEW
MCGONAGALL was born in Edinburgh and spent his childhood on Orkney before moving to Dundee with his family in 1836.
He began writing poetry at the age of 47, entertaining the people of Dundee in pubs and theatres with his peculiar style of verse.
The Scotsman has managed to obtain an exclusive extract from one of the lost McGonagall poems - written to celebrate a horse parade through the streets of Dundee to mark the wedding of the Duke of York to Princess Nay.
"It was on the 6th July, and in the year of 1893, there was a grand Horse Parade in the City of Dundee,
In respect of the Royal Wedding, which was magnificent to see,
And the beautiful sights filled the citizens' hearts with glee.
The bells of the Old Steeple a merry peal rang out,
Which caused the school children with joy to shout,
And the Town House on the High Street was beautiful to view,
It was decorated with crimson cloth and true blue."
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