Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Poem: William McGonagall


Beautiful town of Montrose, I will now commence my lay,
And I will write in praise of thee without dismay,
And in spite of all your foes,
I will venture to call thee Bonnie Montrose.
Your beautiful Chain Bridge is magnificent to be seen,
Spanning the river Esk, a beautiful tidal stream,
Which abounds with trout and salmon,
Which can be had for the catching without any gammon.

Then as for the Mid Links, it is most beautiful to be seen,
And I’m sure is a very nice bowling green,
Where young men can enjoy themselves and inhale the pure air,
Emanating from the sea and the beautiful flowers there,
And as for the High Street, it’s most beautiful to see,
There’s no street can surpass it in the town of Dundee,
Because it is so long and wide,
That the people can pass on either side
Without jostling one another or going to any bother.

Beautiful town of Montrose, near by the seaside,
With your fine shops and streets so wide,
‘Tis health for the people that in you reside,
Because they do inhale the pure fragrant air,
Emanating from the pure salt wave and shrubberies growing there;
And the inhabitants of Montrose ought to feel gay,
Because it is one of the bonniest towns in Scotland at the present day.

- William McGonagall (1825-1902)

I have just finished a series of Joanna Preston's Reading for Writing classes, one of which took the topic of "Bad Poetry". Of course, the poets studied had to include the immortal William Topaz McGonagall. There is something curiously encouraging about studying bad poets, when struggling to write good poetry! And of course, working out just why it is bad can offer useful guidance as to what to avoid in one's own writing.

The classes were held at the Sydenham room of the Christchurch South Library. Bad news when I picked up the newspaper this morning - ongoing inspections of council facilities have revealed that the library is at only 10 to 20% of new building strength due to earthquake damage, and it has been closed. It was the first library branch to reopen after the February 2011 earthquakes and has been a lifeline in so many ways - as a library, art gallery for community groups, cafe and meeting place, City Council service centre, learning centre and educational facility and so on. The award winning building was completed in 2003 - showing that the impact of the quakes extends beyond the old, unreinforced masonry buildings that were the first casualties.

Presumably Joanna will be looking for a new venue for her next series of classes. I hope she finds one as they are well worth attending - most of the class members were repeat attendees, since there is something new to learn every time.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site. This week, poems from the finalists in the poetry category of the New Zealand book awards are posted there, and other participants are linked in the side bar.

1 comment:

Michelle Elvy said...

I really admire your positive approach to bad poetry -- how you find it 'curiously encouraging'. Loved reading that in your note. And enjoyed this post!