Jottings of New York: A Descriptive Poem

Original Text: 
William McGonagall, Poetic Gems (1890; Trowbridge and Esher: Trowbridge, 1975): 97-99. PR 4970 .M45 P6 1975 St. Michael's College Library
1Oh mighty City of New York! you are wonderful to behold,
2Your buildings are magnificent, the truth be it told,
3They were the only thing that seemed to arrest my eye,
4Because many of them are thirteen storeys high.
5And as for Central Park, it is lovely to be seen,
6Especially in the summer season when its shrubberies and trees are green;
8Surrounded by trees, on the beautiful sward so green;
9Also Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott,
10Which by Englishmen and Scotchmen will ne'er be forgot.
11There the people on the Sabbath-day in thousands resort,
12All loud, in conversation and searching for sport,
13Some of them viewing the menagerie of wild beasts there,
14And also beautiful black swans, I do declare.
15And there's beautiful boats to be seen there,
16And the joyous shouts of the children do rend the air,
18And the fare is five cents for children and adults ten is all they take.
19And there's also summer-house shades and merry-go-rounds,
20And with the merry laughter of the children the Park resounds
21During the livelong Sabbath day,
22Enjoying the merry-go-round play.
23Then there's the elevated railroads, about five storeys high,
24Which the inhabitants can see and hear night and day passing by,
25Oh! such a mass of people daily do throng,
26No less than five hundred thousand daily pass along,
27And all along the City you can get for five cents,
28And, believe me, among the passengers there are few discontent.
29And the top of the houses are all flat,
30And in the warm weather the people gather to chat,
31Besides on the house-tops they dry their clothes,
32And also many people all night on the house-tops repose.
33And numerous ships and steamboats are there to be seen,
34Sailing along the East River Water so green;
35'Tis certainly a most beautiful sight
36To see them sailing o'er the smooth water day and night.
37And Brooklyn Bridge is a very great height,
38And fills the stranger's heart with wonder at first sight,
39But with all its loftiness, I venture to say,
40For beauty it cannot surpass the new Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay.
41And there's also ten thousand rumsellers there,
42Oh! wonderful to think, I do declare!
43To accommodate the people of That city therein,
44And to encourage them to commit all sorts of sin.
45And on the Sabbath-day, ye will see many a man
46Going for beer with a tin can,
47And seems proud to be seen carrying home the beer
48To treat his neighbours and family dear.
49Then at night numbers of the people dance and sing,
50Making the walls of their houses to ring
51With their songs and dancing on Sabbath night,
52Which I witnessed with disgust, and fled from the sight.
53And with regard to New York and the sights I did see,
54One street in Dundee is more worth to me,
55And, believe me, the morning I sailed from New York
56For Bonnie Dundee, my heart it felt as light as a cork.


7] A statue commissioned from Sir John Robert Steell and unveiled there in 1880 as well as in Dundee (using a cast of the same). The Shakespeare statue, by John Quincy Adams Ward, was unveiled in 1870. The lower end of the Mall or the Promenade, termed Literary Walk or Poets' Walk, also has statues memorializing Sir Walter Scott (1871) and Fitz-Greene Halleck (1876). Back to Line
17] Lohengrin Lake: not identified. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
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