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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Queen's ode to castle
The Queen has written a poem in the visitors' book of her late mother's castle.

The Queen
Although we must leave you,
Fair Castle of Mey,
We shall never forget,
Nor could ever repay,
A meal of such splendor,
Repast of such zest,
It will take us to Sunday,
Just to digest.
To leafy Balmoral,
We are now on our way.
But our hearts will remain
At the Castle of Mey.
With your gardens and ranges,
And all your good cheer,
We will be back again soon
So roll on next year.

Queen Elizabeth II

The poem, believed to have been handwritten by a member of staff, was passed on while the Queen was staying on the Royal Yacht Britannia near the Castle of Mey, on the north coast of Scotland, in 1993.

The 16-line poem praises the food, gardens and "good cheer" at the castle as the Queen departed for her own Scottish retreat in Balmoral.

It was copied complete with a spelling mistake in "splendour", and signed "HM Queen".

A Castle of Mey spokesman said: "Before the Britannia was decommissioned, there was a tour of the Western Isles before the Queen was taken round to Aberdeen for her holiday at Balmoral. The ship would lie off Scrabster and she would meet the Queen Mother for lunch at the Castle of Mey."

The Castle of Mey was the Queen Mother's Highland retreat for many decades.

She renovated the dilapidated building, with views of the Pentland Firth, after buying it in 1952, soon after her husband died.

When the Queen Mother died in 2002 it was agreed to open the castle to the public, and its first full season begins this weekend.

'Cheerful doggerel'

University of Cambridge professor of English John Kerrigan described the verse as "a cheerful piece of doggerel, with an airy informality which does the author - so often thought grand - some credit."

"Technically it's as competent as anything by Bob Dylan, stumbling only once in the penultimate line," he told BBC News Online.

Prof Kerrigan said poems about country house hospitality go back to the seventeenth century, when the first Poet Laureate, Ben Jonson, wrote about Penshurst in Kent.

"The Queen's verses on Mey are not quite in Jonson's league, though the present Poet Laureate Andrew Motion should certainly look to his laurels," he added.

The poem what we wrote
10 Oct 02  |  UK News
Tourists flock to Castle of Mey
14 Aug 02  |  Scotland
Prince Charles unveils Mey memorial
09 Aug 02  |  Scotland
In pictures: Queen Mother's castle
30 Jul 02  |  Scotland

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