McGonagall’s Address to the New Tay Bridge

Mr William McGonagall, the poet of the silvery Tay, has just composed and published a eulogy on the new Tay Bridge. His opening stanza contains the following expressive lines:—

Beautiful new railway bridge of the silvery Tay,
With your strong brick piers and buttresses in so grand array;
And your thirteen central girders, which seems to my eye
Strong enough all windy storms defy.
And as I gaze upon thee my heart feels gay.
Because thou art the greatest railway bridge of the present day;
And can seen for miles away,
From North. South. East, or West of the Tay.
On a beautiful and clear sun shinny day.
And ought make the hearts of the Mars boys feel gay;
Because thine equal no where can be seen,
Only nearby Dundee and the bonnie Magdalen Green.

In the stanza that follows he continues to blend the rich fruits of the poet’s fancy with hard mechanical facts in his own inimitable style:—

Beautiful new railway bridge of the silvery Tay,
With thy beautiful side screens along your railway;
Which will be a great protection on a windy day,
So as the railway carriages won’t be blown away;
And ought to the cheer the hearts of the passengers night and day,
As they are conveyed along thy beautiful railway.
And towering above the silvery Tay,
Spanning the beautiful river from shore to shore;
Upwards of two miles and more.
Which most wonderful to be seen—
Near by Dundee and the bonnie Magdalen Green.

This is how “the structure” strikes the poet’s “eye”—

The structure, to my eye, seems strong and grand,
And the workmanship most skilfully planned;
And I hope the designers, Messrs Barlow and Arrol, will prosper for many a day.
For erecting thee across the beautiful Tay.
And I think nobody need have the least dismay,
To cross o’er thee by night or by day;
Because thy strength is visible to be seen—
Near by Dundee and the the bonnie Magdalen Green.

It will observed that the poet, rising to yet higher flight of fancy. paints the Bridge “the colour of marone”—

And for beauty thou are most lovely to be seen,
As the train crosses o’er thee with her cloud of steam;
And you look well painted the colour of marone,
And to find thy equal there is none;
Which, without fear of contradiction, I venture to say,
Because you are the longest railway bridge of the present day;
That now crosses o’er a tidal stream,
And the most handsome to be seen—
Near by Dundee and the Magdalen green.

Utilising his recent travelling experiences in America as an aid to his art, the poet in the following lines institutes a comparison between the Brooklyn and Tay Bridges. He makes it rather hot for Brooklyn—

The New Yorker boasts about their Brooklyn Bridge,
But in comparison to thee it seems like a midge;
Because thou spannest the silvery Tay,
A mile and more longer. I venture to say;
Besides the railway carriages are pulled across by a rope,
Therefore Brooklyn Bridge cannot with thee cope.

His crowning hope is expressed in the following rhapsody:—

And as you have been opened on the 20th day of June,
I hope Her Majesty Queen Victoria will visit thee very soon;
Because thou art worthy of a visit from Duke, Lord or Queen,
And strong and securely built, which is most worthy to be seen—
Near by Dundee and the bonnie Magdalen Green.

As a whole, the poem may be considered a McGonagallian masterpiece, and should be in the hands of all the poet’s admirers.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 5th July 1887

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