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The Worst Poet Ever Known

William Topaz McGonagall The Worst Poet Ever Known

a man of humor and took it very seriously. It solidified his need to write poetry for the next 25 years.

Although it is not as well-known as the major holidays throughout the year, on August 18, Bad Poetry Day catches the attention of literature enthusiasts throughout the nation. There have been multitudes of great poets throughout history who have gained admiration for their work. However, for every great poet, there many more poor poets. William Topaz McGonagall happens to be one of the latter and is considered to be the worst in history. McGonagall was born in Edinburgh and began writing poetry in 1877 after a voice told him to “Write! Write!” The first poem he wrote was in regard to a Reverend George Gilfillan, which he sent to the weekly news to publish with only his initials. The editor did in fact publish the poem, though with an added note, which McGonagall quotes in his autobiography — “W. McG., Dundee, has sent us a poem in praise of the Rev. George Gilfillan, and he sung his praises truly and well, but he modestly seeks to hide his light under a bushel.” The comment was meant to have a humorous tone, but McGonagall was not

His most known poem is called “The Tay Bridge Disaster.” Some lines include vivid imagery such as, “and the rain came pouring down / and the dark clouds seem to frown / and the Demon of the air seem’d to say — / ‘I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.’” McGonagall published over 200 poems in his life, each written with the same simple rhyme scheme, disregard for meter, and rudimentary diction.

McGonagall strived for fame as a poet, but what he received in response to his poems was mockery. His complete works

along with his autobiography continue to sell today. Though he is known as the worst poet in history, people continue to enjoy his verse, one way or another.


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