Temperance Gems

William Topaz MCGONAGALL (1825 - 1902)

Good people all, of every degree,
I pray, ye all be warned by me:
I advise ye all to pause and think,
And never more to taste strong drink.

Some people do say it is good when taken in moderation,
But, when taken to excess, it leads to tribulation,
Also to starvation and loss of reputation,
Likewise your eternal soul’s damnation.

McGonagall has been widely acclaimed as the worst poet in British history. He campaigned vigorously against excessive drinking, appearing in pubs and bars to give edifying poems and speeches. These were very popular, the people of Dundee possibly recognising that McGonagall was “so giftedly bad he backed unwittingly into genius”. Six of those poems are recited here.

(Summary collated from McGonagall’s verse and Wikipedia by Cori Samuel.)

Genre(s): Poetry

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 The Rattling Boy from Dublin Fox in the Stars
Play 02 A Tribute to Mr Murphy and the Blue Ribbon Army Fox in the Stars
Play 03 The Destroying Angel or The Poet's Dream Fox in the Stars
Play 04 The Troubles of Matthew Mahoney Peter Yearsley
Play 05 The Demon Drink Alana Jordan
Play 06 A New Temperance Poem, in Memory of my Departed Parents Alana Jordan