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Rare poem by 'world's worst poet' expected to fetch £3,000 at auction


19th-century poet William Topaz McGonagall, whose works were so detested he was pelted with rotten fish, has last laugh

One of the unpublished works of a music hall performer from Dundee who gained infamy as the world's worst poet is expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

Edinburgh-born William Topaz McGonagall, a 19th-century weaver and actor who wrote about 200 poems, is widely regarded as the worst poet in English literature.

Although he delighted and appalled audiences, who sometimes threw rotten fish at him, his books remain in print and he is still widely quoted long after his more talented contemporaries have been forgotten.

He composed Lines, In Praise of The Royal Marriage on 6th June 1893 to celebrate the union of George Albert, Duke of York, the future King George V, and Princess Victoria Mary of Teck.

The handwritten, previously unpublished manuscript belongs to Roy Davids, a collector who is selling his entire hoard of poetry. It is expected to fetch £3,000 at Bonham's in London in May.

Critics have accused McGonagall, best known for penning The Tay Bridge Disaster, of being deaf to poetic metaphor and employing inappropriate rhythms that resulted in unintentionally amusing poetry.

In Praise of the Royal Marriage

God bless, the lovely, and sweet Princess May, Also, the Duke of York, so handsome and gay.

Long life, and happiness to them, in married life.

May they always, be prosperous and free from strife.

May their hearts, always be full of glee. And, be kind, to each other, and ne'er disagree.

And, may the demon, discontent, never mar their happiness.

And, my God, be their comforter, in time of distress...

And, if they have children, may they grow grace.

And, be an honour, to the royal race. Of the empress of India, and Great Britain's Queen. Who is faithful to her subjects, and ever has been.

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