Roger McGough

(November 9 - 1937 / Liverpool / England)

The Lesson - Poem by Roger McGough

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 about The Lesson by Roger McGough

  • Lea- Beima Dorestin (12/31/2017 12:50:00 PM)


    Such a heavy and dark poem: (
    But nice rhyme scheme I guess
    (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Muzahidul Reza (11/15/2017 10:57:00 PM)


    'Now let that be a lesson' he said well penned one, congrats and thanks for sharing (Report) Reply

  • Bill Cantrell (11/15/2017 5:39:00 PM)


    I have written some things only to regret them later, I hate negativity, I just hope none of the friends or family members who have had this happen to their loved ones don't read this poem, I'm sure they are in enough pain. (Report) Reply

    (11/21/2017 5:41:00 AM)

    don't be daft - its allegorical man

  • Abhimanyu Kumar.s (11/15/2017 5:12:00 PM)


    So beautiful narration. My all heart reached childhood. Thank you (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (11/15/2017 4:24:00 PM)


    I usually enjoy his humor- -but the prevalence of school shootings and the general atmosphere of violence in the world today prevent me from even finishing this. I just can't. There was even an attack on an elementary school today by a crazed individual. I will guess- hope- -that McGough wrote this in a time that had never seen such things happening in real life. (Report) Reply

  • (11/15/2017 2:07:00 PM)


    I have learnt my lesson. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/15/2017 11:36:00 AM)


    The carnage! ! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (11/15/2017 8:39:00 AM)


    What a lesson and what an indictment to the state of education (Report) Reply

  • Lodigiana Cotts (11/15/2017 6:25:00 AM)


    Roger McGough clearly has a talent and I do like much of his work, but I dont necessarily think his talent is best displayed in this particular piece- I love a good comedic piece and have written a few myself but the tone of this leaves me cold..and not a little worried when we read so recently of violence being carried out in schools throughout the world- deal with that issue by all means but as a serious subject and not humourous one perhaps? (Report) Reply

  • Anil Kumar Panda (11/15/2017 5:46:00 AM)


    This is very bad. I don't like such poems that encourages violence and that is too with school kids. There is nothing good in this poem. (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (11/15/2017 5:27:00 AM)


    This poem reflects negative side. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Reed (11/15/2017 4:49:00 AM)


    I have a good sense of humour but the poet has lost perspective and thinks his humour overrides taste. No-one with a genuine love of children and who has nurtured them carefully through life's trials and tribulations would write a piece such as this. When your children attend school you worry so much that they are being looked after properly by caring people. To deliberately write a destructive piece where trust is dismantled in the name of some sort of dark humour is not appealing at all. (Report) Reply

  • Bharati Nayak (11/15/2017 3:28:00 AM)


    The din and chaos may sometimes drive one mad.Like Robert Murray Smith I too question the reason of this poem being selected as Poem of the Day. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (11/15/2017 1:40:00 AM)


    Congrats for being chosen, Roger😂😂😂 a huge 10++++ (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (11/15/2017 1:38:00 AM)


    Hahaha... A poem that takes the sadness away.....😂😂😂 (Report) Reply

  • Paul Brookes (11/15/2017 1:26:00 AM)


    Seems like the pupils had theirs shot out This is a fantasy what a teacher may wish to do but I am not a fan of this poet however much lauded. Some find it funny some abhorrent It leaves me not feeling anything, Popular is not necessarily good. In the end analysis it is what it is. We all have different senses of humour, this is not mine. (Report) Reply

  • (11/15/2017 12:13:00 AM)


    amazing, this very morning I came across 'skive' for the first time, in my dictionary.
    And now here it is again.
    I said, being Doug, how interested I am in the word 'skug' and imagined how a Clive would go for 'skive'.
    (Report) Reply

  • (10/26/2017 1:48:00 PM)


    My favourite Roger McGough poem after Comeclose and Sleepnow.
    People, where is your sense of humour?
    (Report) Reply

  • (10/26/2017 1:45:00 PM)


    My favourite Roger McGough poem after Comeclose and Sleepnow.
    People, where's your sense of humour?
    (Report) Reply

  • (10/3/2017 9:59:00 AM)


    A great piece of work. Enjoyed reading it!! (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: teacher, girl, today, silence, hair, lost, fire



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Thursday, February 13, 2014


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