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Roger McGough

(November 9 - 1937 / Liverpool / England)

The Lesson


Chaos ruled OK in the classroom
as bravely the teacher walked in
the nooligans ignored him
his 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

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Thursday, February 13, 2014

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  • Bronze Star - 6,774 Points * Sunprincess * (5/13/2014 10:08:00 AM)

    .............truly a great lesson....yes the teacher of life does this job nicely....but what if teachers around the globe could eliminate all who didn't wish to learn....we would have a more intelligent world population....no longer would we need government handouts in any nation.... (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,878 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/6/2014 1:53:00 AM)

    The poem in its words of violent approach between the teacher and class students is beyond amusement to an ordinary mind like me and what is the exact definition is not known. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 378 Points Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/8/2013 2:12:00 AM)

    Omi gawd if such teachers we too had
    Survivors would amputees so be
    Whacked and scared so bad
    And yet go to classrooms with shields and guns
    Nay not to fight among-st ourselves
    But for such teachers who come so lethally armed!

    I welcome all ye poets reading this to my page too......... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Dan Consoer (8/29/2012 8:28:00 PM)

    Seems an obvious point here. The teacher's name is life, the universe, everything, or whatever you like. Nothing can be learned, in the end. You can't learn *from* life, only in it. And then you're dead, and you're excused from every future exam. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Baru Gobira (7/25/2010 12:48:00 AM)

    It brought a big smile and I enjoyed it. Extraordinary thought. Your take makes the phrase ' If looks could kill ' graduate with grace to the highest level. May your tribe grow.-Baru Gobira (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Martin Widjaja (7/24/2010 6:20:00 PM)

    In ‘The Lesson’, Mcgough attempts to contrast a teacher’s professional ethics with their actual human feelings, a surprising expose of a teachers most inner thoughts, when having to teach a rather unpleasant group of hormonally driven/influenced adolescents. He allows his inner feeling to manifest to a fantasy of revenge on academic vagrants. This is shown with the teacher taking authority without rules in the way he would like to use it, and a reversal of roles taking an unexpected and incongruent result. Overall, I think everyone is looking into the violence rather than the reason behind you. Genius poem really. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Pam Lorbes (5/10/2010 6:36:00 AM)

    hi mr.mcgough,
    i've read your poem 'the lesson' and chose it to present to our class on saturday. however, i have some questions for you.
    why did you wrote this poem? who are you addressing here? and what grade level would it be read?
    hope you will answer these sir.
    thank you
    respectfully yours, pam (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Lewis Neil Is Awsome (11/4/2009 4:54:00 PM)

    Wow, that was pretty good, but i hear there is this poem called 'Neil is awsome', it was life changing and insperational. Read it and vote it a 10! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Luca Luca (10/6/2009 9:57:00 AM)

    it's an ironic poem. i liked it because it seems like a funny poem, but if you read it with attenction you can understand the real meaning. it speeks about violence and i found it very interesting. after reading this poem i understood that we must be always honest and we have to 'fight' violence with good actions.

    by luca peluso from casalnuovo (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Claudio & Daniele Fummo (10/5/2009 4:36:00 PM)

    If it is true that violence comes from our hearts, therefore we must control it.
    We mustn't submit to violence, because man is a creauture of peace, of freedom,
    who can't live imprisoned, enslaved by something.
    Many people can think that violence is an istrument of power, but they are all wrong: violence is the tool of the most poor, of the one who can't go on by dialogue.This shall be our best weapon:
    dialogue, to combat violence, and not violence.
    I think that this is the message that McGough would to teach us with this meaningful poem.

    By The Twins from Casalnuovo, Neaples (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mattia Brognoli (10/5/2009 3:42:00 PM)

    This poem has a base very ironic. The author wants us to enjoy making us also reflect on the real violence in the world such as wars, terrorism and denounced. However, it is very funny even though some may remain more sensitive shocked by this violence ironic. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Vanny Reccia (10/5/2009 1:50:00 PM)

    i was schoking, spechless and disgusting after the reading of the poem, and i think that are extactly the feeling that the author wanted to create in us. The poet want say us that we are continuasly sorraunded by violence, that is every day mach more waidspread and somethis because of her spread a lot of people respond to it with more violence. what was the techer extactly doing in the poem, responding to his bad-temperated students with the violence. We must be always good, honest and disgusting by violence not indefferent to it

    kiss vany =) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Markus Marco (10/5/2009 1:09:00 PM)

    i think that this poem is very beautiful and very important because it expresses an important thing ' the violence' beacuse, every day violence is everywhere and everydays we listen a lot of things about violence. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Roberto Gerardo (10/5/2009 12:53:00 PM)

    Nowadays we are surround by violence, everyday we listen about hundrends violence's cases in families and everywhere.Roger want to make us to see all this violence that many times we don't examine.However we can also see a funny side of the poem that is evident.


    Saluti dal vostro amato Sandokan: D... Un Bacione a tutti e Fate i bravi: P (Report) Reply

Read all 91 comments »

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