Today, I've got a special treat for all you lovers out there, a poem by the Victorian Scottish poet and weaver William Topaz McGonnagall, considered by many to be the worst poet ever!

This is a poem about love, and the lengths that gallant knights will go to for their loves. It is also about unreasonable requests made by petulant lovers.

What makes this a bad poem? I'm glad you asked. First off, consider this quatrain:

So he leap’d into the river wide,
And swam across to the other side,
To fetch a flower for his young bride,
Who watched him eagerly on the other side.

It doesn't really scan well. McGonnagall seems to not really care about the scansion of his verse, and yet he feels the need to turn "leaped" into "leap'd," which is usually done to cut down on the number of syllables in order to preserve the meter. But "leaped" and "leap'd" both have only one syllable. Why'd he do that? My best guess is because it looked more poetic.

He also consistently uses the exact same rhymes over and over ("wide," "side," and "bride") which would be fine if it were a refrain, but it isn't in this case. Not to mention that he refers to both sides of the river as "the other side," making the whole situation confusing. Did the knight make it to the other side? He sure did, but he didn't come back to the other other side.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this little moral tale, and take its lesson to heart, "don't forget the knight who did a blazingly stupid thing."

Many thanks to McGonnagall Online, the chief preserver of William Topaz' works: www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/

Posted
AuthorMark Turetsky