Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mondays with McGonagall: Ode to Edward VII

This week's McGonagall (late, I know – I'm sorry) is an ode that William wrote for the coronation of Edward VII of England. My guess is he'd been itching to write a coronation poem for years, having spent most of his career during the long reign of Queen Victoria.

Oh! God, I thank Thee for restoring King Edward the Seventh's health again,
And let all his subjects throughout the Empire say Amen;
May God guard him by night and day,
At home and abroad, when he's far away.

May angels guard his bed at night when he lies down,
And may his subjects revere him, and on him do not frown;
May he be honoured by them at home and abroad,
And may he always be protected by the Eternal God.

My blessing on his noble form, and on his lofty head,
May all good angels guard him while living and when dead;
And when the final hour shall come to summons him away,
May his soul be wafted to the realms of bliss I do pray.

Long may he reign, happy and serene,
Also his Queen most beautiful to be seen;
And may God guard his family by night and day,
That they may tread in the paths of virtue and not go astray.

May God prosper King Edward the Seventh wherever he goes,
May he always reign victorious over his foes;
Long may he be spared to wear the British Crown,
And may God be as a hedge around him at night when he lies down;
May God inspire him with wisdom, and long may he reign
As Emperor of India and King Edward the VII. --Amen.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mondays with McGonagall: Loch Leven

More from William's autobiography this week, except this is a poem, with the somewhat hubristic title Magnificent Poem on Loch Leven:

Beautiful Loch Leven, near by Kinross,
For a good day's fishing the angler is seldom at a loss,
For the loch it abounds with pike and trout,
Which can be had for the catching without any doubt;
And the scenery around it is most beautiful to be seen,
Especially the Castle, wherein was imprisoned Scotland's ill-starred Queen.

Then there's the lofty Lomond Hills on the eastern side,
And the loch is long, very deep, very wide;
Then on the southern side there's Benarty's rugged hills,
And from the tops can be seen the village of Kinross with its spinning mills.

The big house of Kinross is very handsome to be seen,
With its beautiful grounds around it, and lime trees so green,
And 'tis a magnificent sight to see, on a fine summer afternoon
The bees extracting honey from the leaves when in full bloom.

There the tourist can enjoy himself and while away the hours,
Underneath the lime trees shady bowers,
And listen to the humming of the busy bees,
While they are busy gathering honey from the lime trees.

Then there's the old burying ground near by Kinross,
And the dead that lie there turned into dusty dross,
And the gravestones are all in a state of decay,
And the wall around it is mouldering away.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Made it!

The week is up, the period of mourning is over. My latest "week without caffeine" push has finally finished.

As has proven to be the case most times I've done this, day 3 and 4 were the worst, although the ways my body has rebelled have varied. This time, I didn't get the migraines that I did the first time I detoxed, but I did have almost constant low-grade dull headaches. On day 4 (Wednesday), I found it almost impossible to focus on anything, felt irritable, restless – it was like I'd drunk a bottle of red cordial neat. I can't imagine what it would be like to have to battle that every single day :S

The picture in this post is my tribute to the hot drink that helped me get through the 168 hours of torture: Rooibos. Unlike tea, rooibos is completely caffeine-free, but is still rich in minerals & anti-oxidants. I think it may be in my top 3 hot drinks now (sorry, green tea!), and I expect to be drinking a lot more of it in the future.

Okay, now I'm off for a cuppa, see y'all later!

Photo Creative Commons: wilnora on flickr

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mondays with McGonagall: Peas

This week's Monday with McGonagall comes from his autobiographical writings, and explains his first performance-related encounter with peas…

My Dearly Beloved Readers, – I will begin with giving an account of my experiences amongst the publicans. Well, I must say that the first man who threw peas at me was a publican, while I was giving an entertainment to a few of my admirers in a public-house in a certain little village not far from Dundee but, my dear friends, I wish it to be understood that the publican who threw the peas at me was not the landlord of the public-house, he was one of the party who came to hear me give my entertainment.

Well, my dear readers, it was while I was singing my own song, The Rattling Boy from Dublin Town, that he threw the peas at me. You must understand that the Rattling Boy was courting a lass called Biddy Brown, and the Rattling Boy chanced to meet his Biddy one night in company with another lad called Barney Magee, which, of course, he did not like to see, and he told Biddy he considered it too bad for her to be going about with another lad, and he would bid her good-bye for being untrue to him. Then Barney Magee told the Rattling Boy that Biddy Brown was his lass, and that he could easily find another – and come and have a glass, and be friends.

But the Rattling Boy told Barney Magee to give his glass of strong drink to the devil! meaning, I suppose, it was only fit for devils to make use of, not for God's creatures. Because, my friends, too often has strong drink been the cause of seducing many a beautiful young woman away from her true lover, and from her parents also, by a false seducer which, no doubt, the Rattling Boy considered Barney Magee to be.

Therefore, my dear friends, the reason, I think, for the publican throwing the peas at me is because I say, to the devil with your glass, in my song, The Rattling Boy from Dublin, and he, no doubt, considered it had a teetotal tendency about it, and, for that reason, he had felt angry, and had thrown the peas at me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Caffeine: ultimate love/hate

Anyone who knows me knows I love my coffee – plunger, espresso, flat white, short macchiato, I'm there. Unfortunately, my love for caffeinated goodness often means my consumption goes up in direct proportion to my busyness levels, until I find myself drinking too much of the stuff.

Not being the sort of person that's really capable of doing anything by halves (including coffee drinking), I combat this by going on caffeine fasts, where I'll not drink anything caffeinated for a period of time (usually a week). As I sit here with a nearly-empty thermos of plunger coffee, I can't help but think that it's time for another one.

So as of midnight tonight, I'll be completely off caffeine (in any form: tea, coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, whatever) for the entire week. Usually by day 3, my body goes into full-scale rebellion, and tries to make life miserable. Thankfully there aren't any uni classes this week.

Wish me luck…

Photo Creative Commons:
GIRLintheCAFE on Flickr

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Tartan Day!

McGonagall in a kilt
As my good friend Stephen McDonald reminded me, today (well, yesterday) is Tartan Day, a day designed for those of Scottish heritage to rejoice in the glories of their forbears. As a proud bearer of a Scottish name, I thought it only fitting to use today to start something I'd been meaning to do for some time.

It is my endeavour to post weekly excerpts of the works of William Topaz McGonagall, widely hailed as Scotland's (and possibly the world's) worst poet. I think that his work is greatly underappreciated, and if through this blog I can introduce more people to his magic, then I will be satisfied.

For those unfamiliar with the great bard, here is an excerpt from his entry on Wikipedia:

Born in Edinburgh, of Irish parentage, McGonagall was working as a handloom weaver in Dundee, Scotland when an event occurred that was to change his life. As he was later to write:
The most startling incident in my life was the time I discovered myself to be a poet, which was in the year 1877.

It was with this that he wrote his first poem An Address to the Rev. George Gilfillan, which showed all the hallmarks that would characterise his later work. Gilfillan commented "Shakespeare never wrote anything like this."

McGonagall has been widely acclaimed as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms of his poetry are that he is deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. In the hands of lesser artists, this might simply generate dull, uninspiring verse. However, McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings generate. The inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most spontaneously amusing comic poetry in the English language.

Here, then, is the inaugural Monday with McGonagall (albeit incorrectly, and somehow appropriately, on a Tuesday):

A Requisition to the Queen

Most August! Empress of India, and of great Britain the Queen,
I most humbly beg your pardon, hoping you will not think it mean
That a poor poet that lives in Dundee,
Would be so presumptous to write unto Thee

Most lovely Empress of India, and Englands generous Queen,
I send you an Address, I have written on Scotlands Bard,

Hoping that you will accept it, and not be with me to hard,
Nor fly into a rage, but be as Kind and Condescending
As to give me your Patronage

Beautiful Empress, of India, and Englands Gracious Queen,
I send you a Shakespearian Address written by me.

And I think if your Majesty reads it, right pleased you will be.

And my heart it will leap with joy, if it is patronized by Thee.

Most Mighty Empress, of India, and Englands beloved Queen,
Most Handsome to be Seen.

I wish you every Success.

And that heaven may you bless.

For your Kindness to the poor while they are in distress.

I hope the Lord will protect you while living
And hereafter when your Majesty is ... dead.

I hope the Lord above will place an eternal Crown! upon your Head.

I am your Gracious Majesty ever faithful to Thee,

William McGonagall, The Poor Poet,

That lives in Dundee.

Poem found here