The First Poem

W. M. G. Dundee, who modestly seeks to hide his light under a bushel, has surreptitiously dropped into our letter box an ‘Address to the Rev. George Gilfillan’. Here is a sample of this worthy’s powers of versification…

Rev. George Gilfillan of Dundee
There is none can you excel.
You have boldly rejected the Confession of Faith,
And defended your cause right well.
The first time I heard him speak,
’Twas in the Kinnaird Hall,
Lecturing on the Garibaldi movement,
As loud as he could bawl.
He is a liberal gentleman,
To the poor while in distress;
And for his kindness to them,
The lord will surely bless.
My blessing on his noble form,
And on his lofty head;
May all good angels guard him while living,
And hereafter when he’s dead.

Weekly News, 7th July 1877

Comments (4) »

  1. Tyler
    In the year 2013, on the 15th day of April at 7:50 pm

    Oh, God, I’m dying… This is fantastic.

  2. Robert Haynie
    In the year 2018, on the 7th day of July at 9:40 am

    This, perhaps, encapsulates all that makes McGonegall, McGonegall. The somewhat uncertain choice of rhymes, the indifferent scansion (Although tame compared to his later, more epic and more erratic works), the somewhat mysterious reference to the “Garibaldi Movement” (of which I could find no reference to, especially in reference to a theological lecture)… these are the seeds of the mighty tree of Plywood (For as deeply as I admire the Poet, I cannot award him the same status as an Oak– or indeed any single tree, surely his verse is crafted from a variety!) that would become his legacy and his works.

    As ever, his ending benediction encompasses everything in this life and the next, in a blunt and straightforward fashion. This is a commonplace in his works. One gains the impression that he has exhausted his muse for the moment in the preceding verses, and as a good Scots of the time would, finish with economy.

  3. Jeremy Salkeld
    In the year 2018, on the 8th day of July at 5:37 pm

    Presumably that had something to do with Garibaldi’s involvement in Italian unification? Certainly the Garibaldi Biscuit was a British invention commemorating his visit to South Shields in County Durham.

  4. r
    In the year 2018, on the 8th day of July at 11:55 pm


    But I find it’s never the wisest choice to presume anything about the Poet’s writings.

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