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Jan. 6th, 2019

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Every December, I participate in a fanfiction exchange called Yuletide, in which people request fanfiction for artworks and other fandoms that do not have significant amounts of fanfiction written for them.

This year, there was a request for fanfiction for the poem "The Tay Bridge Disaster" by William McGonnagal. This is one of McGonnagal's best-known poems, and he is known for being among the worst poets ever to write in English. So of course I am a fan. When all I knew was that someone had requested the poem as a fandom, I was already interested in writing something for them. But then I saw the letter, in which one of the suggestions was "Retell it in Virgilian hexameters."

Here's the thing. I had already written the first line as a Virgilian hexameter. About a year earlier, I had seen in a listing of Latin placenames for locations in Britain that the Scottish river Tay is Tavus, and had translated McGonagall's "Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!" as "Trāminis ō pulcher pons tū Tāvī radiantis!" So I had to write more. It was a moral imperative.

As it turned out, I wasn't able to get the whole poem translated by the Yuletide deadline. I did get the opening and closing stanzas, which are perhaps among the best-known parts of the poem. So I put a frame story onto it of discovering the two fragments, which gave me the chance to use some MLA citations. The selection by Colin S.K. Walker is real, and very recommended.

De Tavi Pontis Clade Carminis Fragmenta: Newly Discovered Fragments (543 words) by cnoocy
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Tay Bridge Disaster - William McGonagall
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Additional Tags: Academia, scholarship, Hexameter

The opening and closing of Gulielmus McGonagall's De Tavi Pontis Clade, newly discovered in the original Latin.

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