The Lesson Poem by Roger McGough

The Lesson

Rating: 4.0


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

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Martin Widjaja 24 July 2010

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.

92 29 Reply
Bou Aliyya 17 July 2010

As an ex-teacher, I salute you Mr McGoogh.

80 31 Reply
Pam Lorbes 10 May 2010

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

30 74 Reply
Baru Gobira 25 July 2010

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

69 29 Reply
Dan Consoer 29 August 2012

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.

51 31 Reply

I like men and Fortnite

0 0 Reply

I like and fortnite

0 0 Reply

I like amelia

0 0 Reply

I like amelia

0 0 Reply
Joshua Heffernan 05 May 2022

Imagine dieing to a shotgun L+Ratio Fortnite nerfed them so hard how can you die ??????

0 0 Reply

Roger McGough

Liverpool / England
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