Ye charwomen, where’er ye be,
I pray ye all be advised by me,
Nay, do not think that I do joke,
When I advise ye to wash with Sunlight Soap.
In my time I’ve tried many kinds of soap,
But no other soap can with it cope,
Because it makes the clothes look nice and clean,
That they are most beautiful to be seen.
Ye can use it, with great pleasure and ease,
Without wasting any elbow grease,
And, while washing the most dirty clothes,
The sweat won’t be dripping off your nose.
Therefore think of it, charwomen, one and all,
And, when at any shop ye chance to call,
Be sure and ask for Sunlight Soap,
For, believe me, no other soap can with it cope.
You can wash your clothes with little rubbing,
And without scarcely any scrubbing,
And I tell you once again without any joke,
There’s no soap can surpass Sunlight Soap;
And believe me, charwomen, one and all,
I remain, yours truly, the Poet McGonagall.
The friends of McGonagall will be pleased to hear, on the authority of the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, that his “latest” — “Lines in Praise of Sunlight Soap” — has been an extraordinary success. Our contemporary says “critics have spoken of it as the best which Mr McGonagall has written since his famous lines on the ‘Silvery Tay’ many years ago. The proprietors of Sunlight Soap have testified their appreciation by sending the bard of the Tay a cheque for two guineas, and the poet believes that the sale may reach a million copies, and has been calculating how much one million pennies would amount to.”
Dundee Courier, 18th September 1894
This poem was written during McGonagall’s brief attempt to make his living through advertising after the Dundee magistrates had forbidden his rowdy public performances in the interests of public order (as well as literary sensibilities!). Sunlight Soap had been granted a Royal Warrant, so they were surely worthy of an endorsement from the “Queen’s Poet”.
He was richly rewarded for his efforts, receiving a fee of two guineas from the manufacturers. On receipt of this princely sum he wrote in reply:
Gentlemen you have my best wishes, and I hope
That the poem I’ve written about Sunlight Soap
Will cause a demand for it in every clime
For I declare it to be superfine.
And I hope before long , without any joke,
You will require some more of my poems about Sunlight Soap.
And in conclusion, gentlemen, I thank ye-
William McGonagall, Poet, 48 Step Row, Dundee.
Whatever effect he had on sales in far flung corners of the Empire, McGonagall’s offer of more poems in praise of Sunlight Soap sadly does not appear to have been taken up.