The Oscar Tragedy

Inspired Poem by William McGonagall

The loss of the whaleship ‘Oscar’ became a story handed down through the years. So much so that 75 years after the tragedy it inspired the famous poet, William Topaz McGonagall (1825 –1902) to compose The Wreck of the Whaler ‘Oscar’. 

McGonagall has been widely described as the worst poet in British history. Although he wrote around 200 poems, including his now famous, The Tay Bridge Disaster, and was in popular demand to make recitations throughout Scotland, it is suggested that his work was considered almost comic, and that his inability to scan, his ill-advised imagery and his ‘deafness to poetic metaphor’ made his work unintentionally amusing.

McGonagall, however, either chose to defiantly ignore his critics, or remained ignorant of their views. It has to be said, collections of his work remain popular, and in print, to this very day.

The Wreck of the Whaler ‘Oscar’ (composed April 1888).

To read the full poem, please view:
www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-wreck-of-the-whaler-oscar