Beautiful Ancient City of Perth,
One of the grandest on the earth,
With your stately mansions and streets so clean,
And situated between two Inches green,
Which are most magnificent to be seen
The North Inch is beautiful to behold,
Where the daisies and butter-cups their petals unfold,
In the warm summer time of the year,
While the clear silvery Tay rolls by quite near,
And such a scene will your spirits cheer.
The South Inch is lovely, be it said,
And a splendid spot for military parade,
While along the highway there are some big trees,
Where the soldiers can rest or stand at ease,
Whichever way their commanders please.
The surrounding woodland scenery is very grand,
It cannot be surpassed in fair Scotland,
Especially the elegant Palace of Scone, in history renowned,
Where some of Scotland’s kings were crowned.
And the Fair Maid of Perth’s house is worthy to be seen,
Which is well worth visiting by Duke, Lord, or Queen;
The Fair Maid of Perth caused the battle on the North Inch
‘Twixt the Clans Chattan and Kay, and neither of them did flinch,
Until they were cut up inch by inch.
The scenery is lovely in the month of June,
When trees and flowers are in full bloom,
Especially near by the Palace of Scone,
Where the blackbird is heard whistling all day
While near by rolls on the clear silvery Tay.
Of all the cities in Scotland, beautiful Perth for me,
For it is the most elegant city that ever I did see,
With its beautiful woodland scenery along the river Tay,
Which would make the tourist’s heart feel gay,
While fishing for trout on a fine summer day.
There, the angler, if he likes to resort
For a few day’s fishing, can have excellent sport,
And while he is fishing during the day,
He will feel delighted with the scenery along the river Tay.
And the fish he catches will drive dull care away,
And his toil will be rewarded for the fatigues of the day.
Beautiful city of Perth, magnificent to be seen,
With your grand statues and Inches green,
And your lovely maidens fair and gay,
Which, in conclusion, I will venture to say,
You cannot be surpassed at the present day.
The Fair City of Perth has a history dating back to Roman times and beyond, its name perhaps deriving from the nearby Roman fort of Bertha. The Kings of Scotland were closely associated with medieval Perth, and were crowned in nearby Scone. The association was not always a happy one however: King James I was murdered in the city in 1437. A hundred years later, John Knox would launch the Scottish reformation by delivering a sermon from St John’s Kirk.
The city’s attractions which McGonagall alludes to remain to this day. The North and South Inches, public parks gifted to the city by Robert III in 1377, still provide green space for the citizens of Perth. The Fair Maid’s house, which inspired a poetic gem of its own, still stands – though it’s no longer open to visitors. The quality of the city’s maidens you will have to judge for yourself.
McGonagall lived for a while in Perth, in a garret above 57 South Street. His continuing mistreatment in Dundee (as well as his being evicted by his landlord) caused him to finally quit the city in October 1894, and as he had often been well recieved in Perth, Dundee’s loss was the Fair City’s gain (or perhaps the other way round!). As he makes clear in his autobiography, however, Perth was “too small for me making a living in” so he moved on to Edinburgh in the summer of the following year.