The vocabulary is poor and the rhyme excruciating, but a collector paid $12,840 Friday for original works by William Topaz McGonagall, internationally celebrated as the worst poet ever to assault the English language.

Up for auction in Edinburgh, Scotland, was a collection of 35 poems McGonagall self-published in the 1890s, in which he rambles about everything from a theater fire and the life of Robert Burns to women's suffrage and Britain's imperial wars. Bad as it was, it did not reach the top estimate of $15,600 at the sale conducted by Edinburgh auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull.

Still, McGonagall's work outstripped a collection of rare and inscribed Harry Potter books by Edinburgh resident J.K. Rowling, which fetched $12,000 at the same sale.