William McGonagall

Many years ago, I gave my father a book for his birthday: the collected works of William McGonagall. If you don’t know him, then do take a look here: he was a Victorian Scot who is widely regarded as the worst poet in the English Language, and he is so bad it is actually quite fun to read his works. My father was a lover of literature (as an English teacher and writer of English textbooks), and he enjoyed this little gift. To my delight, his thank you note came in the form of a poem after the style of William McGonagall. It may not be fine poetry, but I offer it to you also for your amusement.

(Lines written in appreciation)
By Peter Emmens

On the eleventh of August, 1995, was received by me
A birthday gift, viz., a book of poetry,
Which I shall all my years with gratitude recall:
It was the works of the poet McGonagall.

What language liest herein! What stunning scansion!
What moral tone, that doth support – (or stanchion)
Give for modern man to cling to. And with what gladness
Doth the reader rejoice to find such enthusiastic badness!

So hail to thee, thou noble Scottish bard!
Thy verses may be long, but are not hard.
And could not, I truly vow, be cuter
Had they been penned by some smart and literate computer.

Hail also to thee, by the way, my dutiful son –
Was more uplifting gift ever sent t o anyone?

On receiving a book for my birthday

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