In defence of the Great McGonagall

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Woe to the city of Oxford, home of many a fair college
And also of a Press devoted to the advancement of knowledge.
For it has besmirched the good name of McGonagall the bard
Whose admirers, I have to say, will take this pretty hard.


Look in the learned pages of the Oxford Companion to English Literature
And you will search in vain to find a proper and fit picture
Of the rhyming weaver of beautiful Dundee town
Whose standing deserves to go up rather than down.

Alas! His champions will not break open the Cristal, or even the Moet
When they read that he "enjoys a reputation as the world's worst poet".
May curses fall on the scholars of Oxford who confuse right and wrong
When they mistake the method of a lyric poem, and a long-distance song.

For The Great McGonagall began to recite his verse in the Scottish tavern
Which in Victorian times was a music venue like Liverpool's famous Cavern.
It was a place where drinkers expected to hear fiddles, airs and ballads
Though in those days you could probably not purchase tasty wholefood salads.

Scoffers, hold your tongue! When the fearless William proclaimed his rhymes
The regulars looked up from their drams and deemed him guilty of no crimes.
He was telling a story in verse about some topical triumph or disaster
In a well-loved ballad tradition that made the whole tale go faster.

So lament the fate of the poor balladeer whose entire afterlife is hexed
By critics who fail to draw a line between the oral performance and the printed text.
A McGonagall gig would have entertained the boozers over their strong potions
And never felt like a sermon in the kirk or a hushed reading of Andrew Motion's.

So why should this brave son of Ireland always miss out on the plaudits
When other hobbling troubadors enjoy much more favourable audits?
The mockers of McGonagall should just listen to Bob Dylan, in the manner
Of "Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands" or "Visions of Johanna".

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