Tuesday, January 13, 2009

“An Address to Shakespeare" by William McGonagall

McGonagall, William. “An Address to Shakespeare.” More Poetic Gems Selected from the Works of William McGonagall, Poet and Tragedian, with Biographical Sketch and Reminiscences by the Author. Dundee: David Winter, 1962.
I have occasionally attempted to write Shakespeare-inspired poetry (not counting my prize-winning Hamlet Haiku). Fortunately, I've never churned out anything as bad as this gem, written by William McGonagall, who has often been called the worst poet in the world. Enjoy!

An Address to Shakespeare

Immortal! William Shakespeare, there’s none can you excel,
You have drawn out your characters remarkably well,
Which is delightful for to see enacted upon the stage—
For instance, the love-sick Romeo, or Othello, in a rage;
His writings are a treasure, which the world cannot repay,
He was the greatest poet of the past or of the present day⎯
Also the greatest dramatist, and is worthy of the name,
I’m afraid the world shall never look upon his like again.
His tragedy of Hamlet is moral and sublime,
And for purity of language, nothing can be more fine⎯
For instance, to hear the fair Ophelia making her moan,
At her father’s grave, sad and alone.
In his beautiful play, As You Like It, one passage is very fine,
Just for instance in the Forest of Arden, the language is sublime,
Where Orlando speaks of his Rosalind, most lovely and divine,
And no other poet I am sure has written anything more fine;
His language is spoken in the Church and by the Advocate at the bar,
Here and there and everywhere throughout the world afar;
His writings abound with gospel truths, moral and sublime,
And I’m sure in my opinion they are surpassing fine;
In his beautiful tragedy of Othello, one passage is very fine,
Just for instance where Cassio looses his lieutenancy by drinking too much wine;
And in grief he exclaims,
“Oh! that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains.”
In his great tragedy of Richard the III., one passage is very fine
Where the Duchess of York invokes the aid of the Divine
For to protect her innocent babes from the murderer’s uplifted hand,
And smite him powerless, and save her babes, I’m sure ’tis really grand.
Immortal! Bard of Avon, your writings are divine,
And will live in the memories of your admirers until the end of time;
Your plays are read in family circles with wonder and delight,
While seated around the fireside on a cold winter’s night.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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