I've been told that my invitation to Tuesday's dinner party & bad poetry reading was too long-winded to even extract the date & time from - but of course, it had to be. Here it is as it stands, & we're very happy to be hosting the first ever North American McGonagall Supper:
On June 12, 1997th, nearby Dundee, on the beautiful silv'ry Tay, on-board the Frigate Unicorn, was held Scotland's first, & as far as my research has revealed, only ever so far, celebrated McGonagall Supper in honor of the recently celebrated Sir William Topaz McGonagall. Dundee's McGonagall Appreciation Society appears to be defunct, & does not return my calls. We resolve that a New World supper in honor of Scotland's worst poet should be held on the day of his death, on some September 29ths, this year being the One-Hundred-&-Seventh Memorial of what such day, in Berkeley, California, nearby the silv'ry Bay. The McGonagall Appreciation Society's website has been mysteriously removed from the internets, on that website formerly-but-no-longer there being a description of the procedure & protocol of a McGonagall Supper, we hereby also resolve to wing it; but I do recall it following somewhat in the spirit of a Robert Burns Supper, he being Scotland's greatest poet, in the stead of celebrating his birth, & therefore being Scotland's worst poet, we honor McGonagall's memorial, & mimic the pomp & circumstance of a Burns Supper, but in reverse & backwardsly, & with worser Scotch.
Familiarity with the celebrated McGonagall's "Poetic Gems" is not a pre-requirement for attendance at a McGonagall Supper, as the point of which is to read aloud from said gems, & you are the better for having avoided them hitherto so far. Queen Victoria successfully avoided ever witnessing the great poet recite by not being in attendance at Balmoral after Sir William walked sixty miles thru the rain from Dundee to ask her if he might replace Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as Poet Laureate; failing to find her in Scotland, he walked home. It may also behoove you to be in a different country to avoid these recitations.
However, if you wish to familiarize yourself with his life & work, here's is a brief excerpt, in his own words, from his autobiography, which he wrote himself:
"The Autobiography of Sir William Topaz McGonagall
"Poet and Tragedian
"Knight of the White Elephant, Burmah
"My Dear Readers of this autobiography, which I am the author of, I beg leave to inform you that I was born in Edinburgh. My parents were born in Ireland, and my father was a handloom weaver, and he learned me the handloom weaving while in Dundee, and I followed it for many years, until it began to fail owing to machinery doing the weaving instead of the handloom. So much so as I couldn't make a living from it. But I may say Dame Fortune has been very kind to me by endowing me with the genius of poetry. I remember how I felt when I received the spirit of poetry. It was in the year of 1877, and in the month of June, when trees and flowers were in full bloom. Well, it being the holiday week in Dundee, I was sitting in my back room in Paton's Lane, Dundee, lamenting to myself because I couldn't get to the Highlands on holiday to see the beautiful scenery, when all of a sudden my body got inflamed, and instantly I was seized with a strong desire to write poetry, so strong, in fact, that in imagination I thought I heard a voice crying in my ears- 'Write! Write' I wondered what could be the matter with me, and I began to walk backwards and forwards in a great fit of excitement, saying to myself-- 'I know nothing about poetry.' But still the voice kept ringing in my ears - 'Write, write,' until at last, being overcome with a desire to write poetry, I found paper, pen, and ink, and in a state of frenzy, sat me down to think what would be my first subject for a, poem."
After scotch & spam (in lieu of haggis) has slurred our power of our recitation, I resolve to watch from the strange movie "The Great McGonagall", another celebration of the death & life of Sir William Topaz McGonagall, a film by Spike Milligan & Peter Sellers, which they are the filmmakers of.
Please RSVP, & bring some bottom-shelf scotch &/or a sidedish.
For Leviaphiles, recently discovered, a McGonagall poem about Melville's muse:
'TWAS in the month of December, and in the year 1883,
That a monster whale came to Dundee,
Resolved for a few days to sport and play,
And devour the small fishes in the silvery Tay.
So the monster whale did sport and play
Among the innocent little fishes in the beautiful Tay,
Until he was seen by some men one day,
And they resolved to catch him without delay.
When it came to be known a whale was seen in the Tay,
Some men began to talk and to say,
We must try and catch this monster of a whale,
So come on, brave boys, and never say fail.
Then the people together in crowds did run,
Resolved to capture the whale and to have some fun!
So small boats were launched on the silvery Tay,
While the monster of the deep did sport and play.
Oh! it was a most fearful and beautiful sight,
To see it lashing the water with its tail all its might,
And making the water ascend like a shower of hail,
With one lash of its ugly and mighty tail.
Then the water did descend on the men in the boats,
Which wet their trousers and also their coats;
But it only made them the more determined to catch the whale,
But the whale shook at them his tail.
Then the whale began to puff and to blow,
While the men and the boats after him did go,
Armed well with harpoons for the fray,
Which they fired at him without dismay.
And they laughed and grinned just like wild baboons,
While they fired at him their sharp harpoons:
But when struck with,the harpoons he dived below,
Which filled his pursuers' hearts with woe.
Because they guessed they had lost a prize,
Which caused the tears to well up in their eyes;
And in that their anticipations were only right,
Because he sped on to Stonehaven with all his might:
And was first seen by the crew of a Gourdon fishing boat
Which they thought was a big coble upturned afloat;
But when they drew near they saw it was a whale,
So they resolved to tow it ashore without fail.
So they got a rope from each boat tied round his tail,
And landed their burden at Stonehaven without fail;
And when the people saw it their voices they did raise,
Declaring that the brave fishermen deserved great praise.
And my opinion is that God sent the whale in time of need,
No matter what other people may think or what is their creed;
I know fishermen in general are often very poor,
And God in His goodness sent it drive poverty from their door.
So Mr John Wood has bought it for two hundred and twenty-six pound,
And has brought it to Dundee all safe and all sound;
Which measures 40 feet in length from the snout to the tail,
So I advise the people far and near to see it without fail.
Then hurrah! for the mighty monster whale,
Which has got 17 feet 4 inches from tip to tip of a tail!
Which can be seen for a sixpence or a shilling,
That is to say, if the people all are willing.
And that invite in facebooks' format is here. For more on all this, & including our exclusive William McGonagall hip-hop, click on this label. If you are out of the country, I encourage you to read aloud a McGonagall poem or watch Mr Milligan's movie on Tuesday.