“Poetic Gems” by William McGonagall

The city Dundee is famous throughout the world for its marmalade and its jute manufactures, but within recent years there has been another commodity added to these — namely, the poetry of Mr William McGonagall. The dwellers the banks the silvery Tay, well those on the less pellucid Clyde, have been familiar with Mr McGonagall’s works hitherto mostly in fugitive form, but there has just been issued by the Messrs Winter & Duncan, Dundee, a well-printed volume bearing the title “Poetic Gems: selected from the works of William McGonagall, Poet and Tragedian.” The title is no misnomer. The “poetical” pieces here selected from this author’s works are certainly gems their kind. As showing the repute in which our distinguished townsman is now held those younger in years than himself, and who are seeking after the royal road to the realms of poesy, we extract from the book a series queries which were addressed to the poet by three students of Glasgow University, who send also therewith ode composed in honour of Mr McGonagall. These enthusiastic disciples write as follows:-

What grammar would you recommend as a preliminary study to the writing of poetry?

Is a College education an aid to write poetry, and what University would you recommend?

Is the most intellectual benefit to derived from study of the McGonagallian or Shakespearian school of poetry?

Does your own success in the realms of poetry enable you to estimate what special capacity any of us may have for lyric poetry or the drama?

Would you recommend any of us to try our chance the histrionic art; and, if not, why not?

Is Macbeth or Richard III the best character to take up?

Would you recommend us to write direct to the Queen as patron of poetry; or should we go to Balmoral to see her there?

What chances do you consider we have in knocking out Tennyson as Poet Laureate?

If we should resolve upon going to Balmoral, which route would you recommend? Also name any ‘models’ that may be known to you in that direction, stating landlady’s name, and if married or single.

The answers to these important and interesting questions are not, we are sorry to say, printed in the book. If they had been they would doubtless have been pregnant with valuable hints to literary aspirants throughout the whole Kingdom, as well as those others who admire McGonagall in America and in South Africa.

Evening Telegraph, 23rd March 1891

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