The Burial of the Rev. George Gilfillan

Original Text: 
William McGonagall, Poetic Gems (1890; Trowbridge and Esher: Trowbridge, 1975): 49-50. PR 4970 .M45 P6 1975 St. Michael's College Library
3It was a most solemn sight to see,
4Not fewer than thirty thousand people assembled in Dundee,
5All watching the funeral procession of Gilfillan that day,
6That death had suddenly taken away,
7And was going to be buried in the Hill o' Balgay.
8There were about three thousand people in the procession alone,
9And many were shedding tears, and several did moan,
10And their bosoms heaved with pain,
11Because they knew they would never look upon his like again.
12There could not be fewer than fifty carriages in the procession that day,
13And gentlemen in some of them that had come from far away,
14And in whispers some of them did say,
15As the hearse bore the precious corpse away,
18For he never turned them empty-handed away from his door;
19And to assist them in distress it didn't give him pain,
20And I'm sure the poor will never look upon his like again.
21On the Gilfillan burial day, in the Hill o' Balgay,
22There was a body of policemen marshalled in grand array,
23And marched in front of the procession all the way;
24Also the relatives and friends of the deceas'd,
25Whom I hope from all sorrows has been releas'd,
26And whose soul I hope to heaven has fled away,
27To sing with saints above for ever and aye.
28The Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council were in the procession that day;
29Also Mrs Gilfillan, who cried and sobbed all the way
30For her kind husband, that was always affable and gay,
31Which she will remember until her dying day.
32When the procession arrived in the Hill o' Balgay,
33The people were almost as hush as death, and many of them did say --
34As long as we live we'll remember the day
35That the great Gilfillan was buried in the Hill o'Balgay.
36When the body of the great Gilfillan was lowered into the grave,
37'Twas then the people's hearts with sorrow did heave;
38And with tearful eyes and bated breath,
39Mrs Gilfillan lamented her loving husband's death.
41Then took one last fond look, and in sorrow did leave;
42And all the people left with sad hearts that day,
43And that ended the Gilfillan burial in the Hill o' Balgay.


1] George Gilfillan (1813-78), Scottish dissenting minister, critic, and editor of poetry. Back to Line
2] Hill o' Balgay: western Dundee hill with a cemetery on top, the Western Necropolis, and with a park created in 1871 by the Earl of Dalhousie for the benefit of local mill workers. Back to Line
16] Dundee street. Back to Line
17] I'm: Im' (1890). Back to Line
40] immortelles: "name for various composite flowers of papery texture (esp. Helichrysum orientale, and other species of Helichrysum, Xeranthemum, etc.) which retain their colour after being dried" (OED). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: