Lines in Praise of the Arbroath Oddfellows

’Twas on the 10th of May, in the year of 1893,
I left Dundee with my heart full of glee.
To give an entertainment to the Oddfellows in Arbroath,
And to see to my protection they plighted their troth.

I will ever remember their gentlemanly treatment for many a day.
Which I defy any one, virtually speaking, to gainsay.
I partook of a fine supper, I most solemnly declare.
Also every one that was assembled there.

Mr William Fraser he was there —
A very good man, and Mr Bryan occupied the chair;
Also another good man, called A. Brown,
Which, for kindness to me, cannot be surpassed in any town.

Goodwill and good-humour are the features of the society.
And friendship, love, and truth is the motto of the fraternity;
Which, I must declare to the world, they bestowed on me.
And without fear of contradiction, they are a goodly company.

The entertainment I gave them was received with loud applause.
So much, I was afraid some one would have raxed his jaws;
And all I gave them was highly appreciated,
And, the best of all, I was kindly treated.

The songs rendered by various gentlemen couldn’t be bet.
Especially “A’ the airts the wind can blaw” I’ll never forget.
And in conclusion, the proceedings were very entertaining.
Believe me, Oddfellows, I am yours truly,
Jointly and severally one and all,

Remaining, William McGonagall, Poet.

Notes

This poem was written to commemorate a visit to Arbroath he made in 1893, where the poet was engaged to present the prizes after an Oddfellows’ football match. It was published in the Arbroath Herald the following week.

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Comments (2) »

  1. lynda
    In the year 2014, on the 21st day of September at 10:52 am

    yet another gem from “the best”. who knows what more is out there just waiting to be found.thank you for bring a unknow work into the world.

  2. stephen shaw
    In the year 2016, on the 6th day of February at 6:21 pm

    For the last two years we have enjoyed the Alderley Mummers Play- and I note a likeness between McGonagalls dramatic lines and theirs, which are to be read out loud in a declarative style.
    Compare

    Goodwill and good-humour are the features of the society.
    And friendship, love, and truth is the motto of the fraternity;
    Which, I must declare to the world, they bestowed on me.
    And without fear of contradiction, they are a goodly company.

    with:

    I am Prince Saladine the Black Morocco King
    Whose famous Courage through the world doth ring
    ‘Twas I that brought the fiery Dragon to the Slaughter
    And won fair Sabra King of Egypt’s Daughter
    ‘Twas I that slew the seven Turkey Brethren but for
    them I did not care
    For through their hearts I ran my glittering Sword & Spear

    Perhaps the rhymes may be tighter but there are places (as in care/Spear) where it looks quite odd. The play is from around 1790 or earlier.

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