Showing posts from July, 2007

The Great MacGonagall

William MacGonagall does in fact have a fair claim to being the worst poet in the English language, not least because he was published, and republished, ad nauseam. Poets have always had a snobbery about publishing - the unpublished poet is perhaps not a poet at all, but the published poet has been deemed a poet, therefore he can be a truly bad poet, rather than just not-a-poet-at-all. MacGonagall is actually very famous and much quoted, and how many of us can say the same? However, he has no true admirers. Lots of people find him funny, but not like Edward Lear was funny (sometimes). MacGonagall was invariably serious, earnest, even. MacGonagall societies are entirely tongue in cheek - an excuse for mock theatricals and a booze-up, nothing more. Was he any good as a poet? Not at all. But he was a remarkable chronicler who would never compromise a fact for the sake of metre. He had no qualms about starting an epic with something like "It was at 7 a.m. on the fourteenth of August,