Leon Retief. William Topaz McGonagall

Mens sien soms ‘n hond wat skoon mooi van lelikgeit is. Tot ‘n mate kan mens dieselfde sê van William Topaz McGonagall se, umm, verse – dis so swak dat dit vermaaklik word en as jy eers begin om dit te lees dan is dit asof ‘n soort van hipnose van die afgryslike jou beetpak en jy kan nie ophou voordat jy by die slotreël uitkom nie. So al met die lees saam is daar darem baie verkneutering te vinde, alhoewel William dit alles behalwe so bedoel het.

Ek het jare gelede in ‘n boek deur Spike Milligan kennis gemaak met McGonagall (1825 of 1830 – 1902), ‘n Skotse wewer, amateur digter en akteur. Ek weet nie waarom ek onlangs weer aan hom gedink het nie, was dit dalk iets wat ek op Versindaba gelees het?

William McGonagall

William McGonagall

McGonagall was reeds in sy leeftyd na waarde geskat – oftewel, propperse digters het geen aandag aan hom gegee nie maar die gehore in destydse “music halls” waar hy dikwels opgetree het was gaande oor sy voordragte. Hy het reeds vroeg ‘n liefde vir toneelspel getoon maar sy talent was sodanig dat Mr. Giles’ Theatre in Edinburgh hom slegs wou toelaat om die hoofrol in Macbeth te speel as hy daarvoor sou betaal.

 Op Wikipedia lees mens hoe McGonagall begin dig het: “…(he) seemed to feel a strange kind of feeling stealing over (him), and remained so for about five minutes. A flame, as Lord Byron said, seemed to kindle up (his) entire frame, along with a strong desire to write poetry.” Sy eerste gedig was “An Address to the Rev. George Gilfillan”. Gilfillan se kommentaar was: “Shakespeare never wrote anything like this.” Hy was reg.

Enkele juweeltjies uit McGonagall se oeuvre:

The Death of Lord and Lady Dalhousie:

 

Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast

 

The Capture of Havana:

 

And from the British battleships
  a fierce cannonade did boom;
And continued from six in the
  morning till two o’clock in the
  afternoon.
And by the 26th of July the guns
  of Fort Moro were destroyed
And the French and Spaniards
  were greatly annoyed

 

McGonagall se magnum opus is ongetwyfeld The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

‘Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clods seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say —
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say —
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the people’s hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

 

Nja. Een van sy ander gedigte is opgedra aan dr. Murison. Ek het geen idee wie hierdie dokter was nie, maar te oordeel aan William se gedig wil dit darem voorkom asof hy goeie digkuns kon waardeer:

 

A Tribute to Dr. Murison

 

He told me at once what was
  ailing me;
He said I had been writing too
  much poetry,
And from writing poetry I would
  have to refrain,
Because I was suffering from
  inflammation of the brain.

 

 

Leon Retief

 

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4 Kommentare op “Leon Retief. William Topaz McGonagall”

  1. Ivan Mocke :

    Liewe magtig, wat ‘n digter! Kostelik, Leon. Ek dink leermeesters moet McGonagall as voorbeeld gebruik van hoe rym NIE gebruik moet word nie … Kan ‘n mens ‘n mediese stelling maak soos: Dié man het rymvrot onder lede?

  2. Leon Retief :

    Rymvrot! Giegiegie… Wat ‘n pragtige woord Ivan!

  3. ben :

    Enige gedig wat rym klink altyd vir my gedwonge. Dit werk goed met spottende, satiriese of kinderverse. Maar andersins, o nee, gee my liewer n vrye vers – dis natuurliker, meer eg. Gits nou gaan die rymelaars my seker vergruis!

  4. Gerhard :

    Leon, hierdie maak my dag. Ideaal vir die blouste van blou Maandae. Baie dankie. Pure koekstruif, hierdie ene. 🙂