The Lesson Roger Mcgough Essay

Commentary On 'the Lesson' By Roger Mc Gough

Commentary on ‘The Lesson’ by Roger McGoughRoger McGough the author of ‘The Lesson’ is a well respected British poet who is still writing poems and is a poetry performer today. His work has become so well recognized that he has received an O.B.E for his contributions to poetry from the Queen. McGough was born in Liverpool and attended school in the nineteen-forties and fifties during a time when corporal punishment was widely present in British education.

‘The Lesson’ by McGough is a poem which exaggerates the theme of corporal punishment and is also a parody on people taking the law into their own hands in an environment which we can all relate to. The title, ‘The Lesson’ is a play on words, the students are attending a lesson and the teacher is about to teach them a lesson they won’t forget.

The poem is all about how one teacher who is so frustrated by the children’s attitude that he decides ‘to teach’ them ‘a lesson, one that’ they’ll ‘never forget. In teaching this “lesson” he is trying to get the children to stop acting so boisterously. The way in which the teacher gets the lesson through to the children is in the form of capital punishment as opposed to corporal punishment. So instead of beating them with a cane he is throttling them with his hands, hacking them down with a sword, and shooting them with a shotgun.

The poem sounds as if it is set in a present day English state school where there is little if any discipline, management, or control over the students. McGough never refers to the students as students or children. He always uses negative nouns for them, such as ‘hooligans’, ‘latecomer’, ‘vandal’, and ‘those who skive’. Even though the teacher is acting in an outrageous way and going round killing students, you still feel sympathetic for him because he has to manage a class of unruly, disobedient kids. This is reinforced because the headmaster of the school is on the teacher’s side. He ‘popped’ his head round the door and ‘nodded understandingly’ and ‘tossed in a grenade.’The poem is divided into quatrains where the second and fourth lines rhyme in each stanza. The first two stanzas are at a steady easy pace, but that changes from the third through...

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The Lesson



The Lesson :




Chaos ruled OK in the classroom

as bravely the teacher walked in

the nooligans ignored him

hid voice was lost in the din



"The theme for today is violence

and homework will be set

I'm going to teach you a lesson

one that you'll never forget"



He picked on a boy who was shouting

and throttled him then and there

then garrotted the girl behind him

(the one with grotty hair)



Then sword in hand he hacked his way

between the chattering rows

"First come, first severed" he declared

"fingers, feet or toes"



He threw the sword at a latecomer

it struck with deadly aim

then pulling out a shotgun

he continued with his game



The first blast cleared the backrow

(where those who skive hang out)

they collapsed like rubber dinghies

when the plug's pulled out



"Please may I leave the room sir?"

a trembling vandal enquired

"Of course you may" said teacher

put the gun to his temple and fired



The Head popped a head round the doorway

to see why a din was being made

nodded understandingly

then tossed in a grenade



And when the ammo was well spent

with blood on every chair

Silence shuffled forward

with its hands up in the air



The teacher surveyed the carnage

the dying and the dead

He waggled a finger severely

"Now let that be a lesson" he said



By Roger McGough






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