27 June 2008

Poetry Friday: All Hail to the Rev. George Gilfillan

My English teacher during junior year in high school, David Outerbridge, assigned everyone to memorize and recite a poem in class. Cheeky bastard that I was, I chose "An Address to the Rev. George Gilfillan," by William Topaz McGonagall. I still remember most of it, which is probably Mr. Outerbridge's revenge.

And so, for Poetry Friday:

All hail to the Rev. George Gilfillan of Dundee,
He is the greatest preacher I did ever hear or see.
He is a man of genius bright,
And in him his congregation does delight,
Because they find him to be honest and plain,
Affable in temper, and seldom known to complain.
He preaches in a plain straightforward way,
The people flock to hear him night and day,
And hundreds from the doors are often turn'd away,
Because he is the greatest preacher of the present day.
He has written the life of Sir Walter Scott,
And while he lives he will never be forgot,
Nor when he is dead,
Because by his admirers it will be often read;
And fill their minds with wonder and delight,
And wile away the tedious hours on a cold winter's night.
He has also written about the Bards of the Bible,
Which occupied nearly three years in which he was not idle,
Because when he sits down to write he does it with might and main,
And to get an interview with him it would be almost vain,
And in that he is always right,
For the Bible tells us whatever your hands findeth to do,
Do it with all your might.
I think that last couplet's daring use of metre is the high point of the poem, but you can find the concluding four lines at McGonagall Online.

That site's front page quotes a note from the Rev. Mr. Gilfillan himself, which was probably how he earned this encomium. The minister had this to say about McGonagall's poetry:
Dundee, 30th May 1865

I certify that William McGonagall has for some time been known to me. I have heard him speak, he has a strong proclivity for the elocutionary department, a strong voice, and great enthusiasm. He has had a great deal of experience too, having addressed audiences and enacted parts here and elsewhere.

George Gilfillan
I'm in Scotland right now, so this posting is doubly timely.

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