Doggerel is “tediously inept”, clumsy and rhythmically awkward verse, often expressing shallow sentimentality, as in greeting cards; the form is often used for comic effect. One of the earliest uses of the term doggerel appears in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340s – 1400), who described his “Tale of Sir Thopas”, one of the stories in The Canterbury Tales, as “rym doggerel”.
The “giftedly bad” Scottish poet William McGonagall (1825–1902) was an accomplished writer of doggerel, as evidenced in his “The Tay Bridge Disaster”,[a]The Tay Bridge, over the Firth of Tay in Scotland, collapsed during a violent storm as a train was passing over it on the evening of 28 December 1879, with the loss of all on board. one of the best-known of his poems, which ends:
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.
|a||The Tay Bridge, over the Firth of Tay in Scotland, collapsed during a violent storm as a train was passing over it on the evening of 28 December 1879, with the loss of all on board.|