December 3, 2002
5:42 PM   Subscribe

"Oh, mighty city of New York, you are wonderful to behold-- Your buildings are magnificent-- the truth be it told-- They were the only thing that seemed to arrest my eye, Because many of them are thirteen storeys high; And as for Central Park, it is lovely to be seen-- Especially in the summer season when its shrubberies are green And the Burns Statue is there to be seen, Surrounded by trees on the beautiful sward so green; Also Shakespeare and the immortal Sir Walter Scott, Which by Scotchmen and Englishmen will never be forgot. " The collected poems of William Topaz McGonagall
posted by sgt.serenity (18 comments total)
Ah, wonderful McGonagall! He features prominently in the arts & literature section of the altogether hysterical The Book of Failures, a tome that figured prominently on various childhood car trips. I can't remember if it was McGonagall or another versifying genius who once started an ode with the stirring "Come, muse! Let us sing of rats!" Thanks for the refresher course, Sarge!
posted by scody at 5:53 PM on December 3, 2002

"The man that gets drunk is little else than a fool,
And is in the habit, no doubt, of advocating for Home Rule;
But the best Home Rule for him, as far as I can understand,
Is the abolition of strong drink from the land.

And the men that get drunk in general wants Home Rule;
But such men, I rather think, should keep their heads cool,
And try and learn more sense, I most earnestlty do pray,
And help to get strong drink abolished without delay."

Now that is truly, magnificently inept verse!

Cheers, sgt.serenity for these gems.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2002

posted by FormlessOne at 6:10 PM on December 3, 2002

he could've written for Hallmark! what a waste! (and fun post, sgt)
posted by amberglow at 6:57 PM on December 3, 2002

scody: The "rats" line is by James Grainger (1721-67). There is a nice selection of bad poetry here, and I highly recommend the anthology The Stuffed Owl mentioned therein if you can find it.
posted by languagehat at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2002

What the heck is this, your first FPP or something!?

Well done!
posted by hama7 at 8:28 PM on December 3, 2002

posted by sgt.serenity at 2:24 AM on December 4, 2002

Nothing beats bad poetry! I've been meaning to get this book—the site has a couple of funny examples, including The Dentalogia.

Or if free verse is more your style, take a trip into Claire's World.
posted by staggernation at 7:04 AM on December 4, 2002

well done Top (sarge)

I once remember talking to Ali Zarrin about a poem of his he published in our Schools mag. It was about how bad poets make good plumbers. Anywho, Zarrin has a wonderful poem 'Baba Ezra', and a line i thought bad was rather good..."He peed in Ezra's lap/ was Ezra short as he?". Check it out, good stuff. We love bad poetry in Michigan, LHs' link to Western Universities site is pretty good. We hold the Julia A. Moore Bad poetry contest here in Flint every year and I see Guest was a Michigan kid though transplanted from England.
(This 'Topaz', this was a real name? or was it some literary quirk)
posted by clavdivs at 8:55 AM on December 4, 2002

Western Universities
(dodges dart disguised as a pen)
now theres a market, a dartboards face with literary figures portraits and darts fashioned after old Ink pens.
as a side note, sarge seems to have an argument going, )even larger then posting style) whatmakes poetry. words that convey thought? it is the cross over i say, when you would defend some old aristcratic shut-up with stodgy twine (call him sir anyone) and pierced inquires against say Milton or even Wordsworth for that matter. Read one against the other it should become evident yes?
but one could say the TIME+ emotion, energy and "craft " =good versus bad poetry. (rustle of papers)

bad poetry is of intense interest to local history if anything.
posted by clavdivs at 10:08 AM on December 4, 2002

well clav, i think bad poetry, if done honestly, is always good...
posted by amberglow at 11:07 AM on December 4, 2002

it is good because it is still of interest, even though that person may not be a "poet".
posted by clavdivs at 11:50 AM on December 4, 2002

i think bad poetry, if done honestly, is always good...

I think that bad poetry is usually much better than "good" or even "great" poetry. And don't get me started on song-poetry!

an earlier discussion, by the way.
posted by mikrophon at 12:11 PM on December 4, 2002

Shockingly, Scotland has struck twice in this regard, we are also responsible for giving the world James McIntyre, the Cheese Poet whom we donated to Canada.

By the way the 'Topaz' bit in McGonagall is a joke. He was hoaxed with a letter, supposedly from the King of Siam, creating him 'Knight of the White Elephant, Burmah' which told him to adopt the extra name Topaz as an honorific!
posted by Flitcraft at 12:36 PM on December 4, 2002

If anybody's interested in following up clav's reference to Ali Zarrin, you can read several of his poems here (and "Baba Ezra" is wonderful).
posted by languagehat at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2002

baba ezra is really good! (or i have no taste--either one)
posted by amberglow at 1:46 PM on December 4, 2002

uh cladius, i tried to get the poem in the fpp the right way round but i couldnt get it to work , i wanted it to look like the yeats post but i couldnt manage it- so please use your imagination.
I find the story of mcgonagal's life quite uplifting and funny,
a kind of tilting at windmills there is a nice poetry in his life....
and it's very scottish to love a glorious failure , we have very low collective self esteem due to the english and we just love our losers, but i might start talking about ally macleod ....the Mcgonagal of football
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:12 PM on December 4, 2002

I hope you did not find criticism in my comment. Tis a good thread. Ms. Clav is Scot-american (a Bruce ya know) So i know alittle of these matters. The English...bah, everyone knows the best engineers and solders are scots.
posted by clavdivs at 8:16 AM on December 5, 2002

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