There are some things that will always work well in tea. Cornflowers are one, and fruit -nearly all of it -seems to be another. We were reminded of this tonight, coming back from the university carol service to a pot of what the calendar simply calls ‘passionfruit green tea.’
The great blessing of fruit in tea is that while it increases in flavour, it never oversteeps, even if the tea does. Hence we could leave the leaves of Orange Oolong in the pot for as long as we liked, and it never went bitter. That’s not strictly true of green tea, but we had had the kind of day that left us disinclined to savour our tea over-long, so that was a non-issue.
Standing in the queue for the carol service this evening, we were told all about a poem penned to St Andrews that isn’t the famous Andrew Lang one.It was written by Robert Crawford for the installation of the new principal and we had grand plans to share it, but seemingly it can’t be found for all the tea in China, so here instead is a poem by another Scottish poet, William Topaz McGonagall. He’s best known for ‘The Bridge of the Silvery Tay’ -at least, for the first four lines. Less well known is that the Tay Bridge Disaster goes on ad at quite some length. The thing about McGonagall’s poetry -well one of many things -is that there are patterns to it, so in former years the Poetry and Cake Society used to play Guess the Rhyme at it’s Christmas party. We gave up on the (in)famous Tay Bridge poem because after a while we all knew it too well.
It wasn’t the only poem he wrote on the subject of the Tay though, and as Tayside isn’t so many miles as the crow flies from us, here’s ‘A Descriptive Poem of the Silvery Tay.’ We’re very sorry. If it’s any consolation, you could always play Guess the Rhyme.
A Descriptive Poem of the Silvery Tay
William Topaz McGonagall
Beautiful silvery Tay,
With your landscapes, so lovely and gay,
Along each side of your waters, to Perth all the way;
No other river in the world has got scenery more fine,
Only I am told the beautiful Rhine,
Near to Wormit Bay, it seems very fine,
Where the Railway Bridge is towering above its waters sublime,
And the beautiful ship Mars,
With her Juvenile Tars,
Both lively and gay,
Does carelessly lie
By night and by day,
In the beautiful Bay
Of the silvery Tay.
Beautiful, beautiful! silvery Tay,
Thy scenery is enchanting on a fine summer day,
Near by Balmerino it is beautiful to behold,
When the trees are in full bloom and the cornfields seems like gold –
And nature’s face seems gay,
And the lambkins they do play,
And the humming bee is on the wing,
It is enough to make one sing,
While they carelessly do stray,
Along the beautiful banks of the silvery Tay,
Beautiful silvery Tay, rolling smoothly on your way,
Near by Newport, as clear as the day,
Thy scenery around is charming I’ll be bound…
And would make the heart of any one feel light and gay on a fine summer day,
To view the beautiful scenery along the banks of the silvery Tay.