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happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)

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Abby Sale 29 Sep 05 - 07:47 AM
Scotus 29 Sep 05 - 10:18 AM
Peace 29 Sep 05 - 07:43 PM
Stilly River Sage 29 Sep 05 - 10:49 PM
Peace 29 Sep 05 - 10:51 PM
Abby Sale 30 Sep 05 - 10:47 AM
Scotus 30 Sep 05 - 01:39 PM
RangerSteve 30 Sep 05 - 06:02 PM
Scotus 01 Oct 05 - 01:08 AM
Joybell 01 Oct 05 - 07:05 PM
Peace 01 Oct 05 - 07:21 PM
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Subject: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 29 Sep 05 - 07:47 AM

(The Great) William Topaz McGonagall was born in Edinburgh March 1825 and was raised in Dundee. (His autobiography confirms this and it also confirms he was born in 1830) In spite of his self-acclaimed poetic genius, he was buried in a pauper's grave sometime after his death on 29 Sept 1902 (give or take.) His work has been distinguished as "the worst poetry ever written, in any language, at any time."

We know the precise period he received the Spirit of Poetry:

        "It was in the year of 1877, and in the month of June,
        When the flowers were in full bloom."

As to whether he was serious, Hamish Henderson likes to suggest the folk-poet may truly have been a satirist all along... perhaps just playing it "in character." He cites a popular tale that McGonagall was once seen to be leaving a performance in Edinburgh with a "satiric smile". (Alias McAlias p305 & elsewhere)

But none question the extraordinary, moving power of Scotland's poet laureate:

        And when the good man's health began to decline
        The doctor or-dered him to take each day two glasses of wine,
        But he soon saw the evil of it, and from it he shrunk,
        The noble old patriarch, for fear of getting drunk.
        And although the doctor advised him to continue taking the wine,
        Still the hero of the temperance cause did decline,
        And told the doctor he wouldn't of wine take any more,
        So in a short time his spirit fled to heaven, where all troubles are o'er.
        I'm sure very little good emanates from strong drink,
        And many people, alas! it leads to hell's brink!
        Some to the scaffold, and some to a pauper's grave,
        Whereas if they would abstain from drink, Christ would them save.

                from "The Funeral of Ex-Provost Rough, Dundee" by William McGonagall

Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Scotus
Date: 29 Sep 05 - 10:18 AM

One of my all-time favourites:

The Royal Review August 25, 1881

All hail to the Empress of India, Great britain's Queen -
Long may she live in health, happy and serene -
That came from London, far away,
To review the Scottish Volunteers in grand array:
Most magnificent to be seen,
Near by Salisbury Crags and its pastures green,
Which will long be remembered by our gracious Queen -

And by the Volunteers, that came from far away,
Because it rain'd most of the day,
And with the rain their clothes were wet all through,
On the 25th day of August, at the Royal Review.
And to the Volunteers it was no lark,
Because they were ankle deep in mud in the Queen's Park,
Which proved to the Queen they were loyal and true,
To endure such hardship at the Royal Review.

Oh! it was a most beautiful scene
To see the Forfarshire Artillery marching past the Queen;
Her Majesty with their steady marching felt content,
Especially when their arms to her they did present.

And the Inverness Highland Volunteers seemed very gran'
And marched by steady to a man
Amongst the mud without dismay,
And the rain pouring down on them all the way.
And the bands did play, God Save the Queen,
Near by Holyrood Palace and the Queen's Park so green.

Success to our noble Scottish Volunteers!
I hope they will be spared for many long years,
And to her Majesty always prove loyal and true,
As they have done for the second time at the Royal Review.

To take them in general, they behaved very well,
The more that the rain fell on them pell-mell.
They marched by Her Majesty in very grand array,
Which will be remembered for many a long day,
Bidding defiance to wind and rain,
Which adds the more fame to their name.

And I hope none of them will have cause to rue
The day that they went to the Royal Review.
And I'm sure Her Majesty ought to feel proud,
And in her praise she cannot speak too loud,
Because the more that it did rain they did not mourn
Which caused Her Majesty's heart with joy to burn,
Because she knew they were loyal and true
For enduring such hardships at the Royal Review.

William Topaz McGonagall

So - I guess it was raining!!

Jack


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Peace
Date: 29 Sep 05 - 07:43 PM

Little Hawk will want to read this thread. He has praised that poet at various times.


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 29 Sep 05 - 10:49 PM

Not only LH; Shatner would also love it!


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Peace
Date: 29 Sep 05 - 10:51 PM

True.


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 30 Sep 05 - 10:47 AM

Jack,

Thank you for your contribution to the Happy File. The standard recompense is herewith dispatched.

As in all cases, full credit will, of course, be given. (Unless people ask very nicely that their names not be attached to such infamy.)


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Scotus
Date: 30 Sep 05 - 01:39 PM

Don't mention it Abby,

Lest there should be any misunderstanding, I am a huge fan of WT McGonagall. I well remember Hamish Henderson's lengthy article in the late and much lamented Scottish folksong magazine 'Chapbook' which ran from the early 1960s until the mid 1970s and was the brainchild of Arthur Argo. In the article Hamish suggested that McGonagall knew more than he let on - particularly about folk motifs and that he might well have been 'taking the piss' out of everyone. Of course in order to get away with that you have to keep a completely straight face, so there's no way of knowing whether he was or not!

Another big fan of McGonagall was the late and also much lamented Spike Milligna (the famous typing error). I distinctly remember him doing a wonderful reading of 'The Tay Bridge Disaster' on TV many years ago. Of course Hamish suggested that McGonagall's folk influences were Irish - this may explain why he 'rang a bell' with Spike!

Getting back to the thread - I'm disappointed no one else has posted a favourite. Come on Catters - - -

Jack


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: RangerSteve
Date: 30 Sep 05 - 06:02 PM

A few facts I got from a book called "Oddballs and Eccentrics".
He started out as an actor, and was apparently as bad at acting as at writing poetry. During a performance of Macbeth (he played the lead), he refused to die. He almost shed real blood while waving his sword around MacDuff. Eventually, MacDuff knocked McGonagall's sword out of his hand, so he just pranced arount MacDuff like a prize fighter, until MacDuff wrestled him to the ground. I would have like to have seen that performance.

He hung around Balmoral Castle reciting his poetry, hoping for an audience with the queen, and eventually received a note saying that she was unable to meet with him. Thereafter, he billed himself as Poet to Her Majesty.

He only sold one copy of his works during his life, to a policeman outside of Balmoral Castle.


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Scotus
Date: 01 Oct 05 - 01:08 AM

So -RS,

You're telling us that McGonagall refused to die in a thread called '(McGonagall dies)'!

It's almost apt ;-)


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Joybell
Date: 01 Oct 05 - 07:05 PM

He's my hero. He lives on - for me, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday when I get one of his poems in my email box. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: happy? - Sept 29 (McGonagall dies)
From: Peace
Date: 01 Oct 05 - 07:21 PM

The Tay Bridge Disaster.


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