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 wont forget.
The poem is all about how one teacher who is so frustrated by the childrens attitude that he decides to teach them a lesson, one that theyll 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 teachers 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 :
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
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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