Two nights ago, on March 19, 2011, at the University of Dundee, two overlooked bad poems by William Topaz McGonagall were given their first public reading in over a century, and perhaps ever. [Click here for event details.] The first of those poems, “Sterling Castle: A Descriptive Poem”, was recited by Eddie Small of the University of Dundee. Here is the text:
Stirling Castle: A Descriptive Poem
The ancient Castle of Stirling is built upon a rock,
Which in the days of warfare withstood many a shock;
And the views from the castle are lovely to see
Especially the bonnie green braes of Airthrey.
From the Castle can be seen the battlefield of Bannockburn,
Likewise the beautiful river Forth, which smoothly doth run,
And the old Bridge of Stirling is attractive to see,
Also famous Touch House and Cambuskenneth Abbey.
And within the Castle are to be seen the House of Parliament,
Built by James III, and an enormous sum of money on it was spent,
Besides the Chapel Royal, and now the Armoury,
And the palace, built by James the Fifth are worthy to see.
And the Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig is charming to be seen,
With its rugged rockery and shrubbery green,
It is rather attractive and amazing to the eyesight,
Because it is erected upon such a perpendicular height.
And the town of Stirling occupies a beautiful seat,
And the streets are very clean and neat,
And the shops are beautiful to behold,
Stocked full with goods for the young and old.
And the surrounding country is most lovely to be seen,
Especially in the summer time when Nature’s face in green,
And the beautiful river Forth, rolling on its way,
Is enough to make the tourist’s heart feel light and gay.
As from the Castle he views the scenery below,
His heart will fill with joy all aglow,
And with delight he’ll exclaim, Oh! How grand,
There’s nothing can equal you in fair Scotland.
BONUS: The morning following the reading, some of the audience re-gathered, this time at the Dundee train station, boarded the 11:02 train south, and as the train slowly crossed the Tay Bridge, they together read aloud McGonagall’s best-known poem, “The Tay Bridge Disaster”. Click here for details of that event.
BONUS: Several days later, Terry Jones (the Monty Python) gave “Sterling Castle” its first public reading outside Scotland. This video documents the occasion: