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

  • Subhas Chandra Chakra (9/3/2017 9:47:00 AM)

    Shocking to read a poem of this kind. Such poems may hurt our general sensibilities.
    Poets need to be brave to express as they feel, regardless of how many dislikes are showered on their remarks.
    I don't agree to publish this kind of thoughts in the world I am born and brought up. Sorry to write this, but true.
    (Report) Reply

    9 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Robert Murray Smith (6/21/2017 4:14:00 AM)

    A poem of this type should not be highlighted on this site. It is not clever to use violence in poetry.

    To be put at number #34 is degrading the site.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/15/2017 4:53:00 PM)

    Wow. I'm awed at this. Amazing. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (1/1/2017 10:34:00 AM)

    tom allport
    is this at one of them new free schools? the way it's going I think it will soon close due to lack of pupils. (Report) Reply

  • Shareq Rahman (11/19/2016 7:40:00 AM)

    Violent Poem.
    If it is a school in Aleppo Syria, then it is OK. The teacher would be Assad and the Principal would be Putin, throwing a grenade from outside. Too violent a piece in these serene pastures. (Report) Reply

  • Bisy Untan (10/29/2016 1:23:00 AM)

    There's amusement from watching outside, but from inside it's different. (Report) Reply

  • Jayatissa K. Liyanage (6/30/2016 6:07:00 AM)

    Awful to think even. Let me not even hear of such incidents, leaving behind such people alone. (Report) Reply

    Billy Licence (10/23/2016 11:58:00 PM)

    Oi ya dumb cunt don't be so rude to the wrinkle rat dick poet

  • (4/17/2016 4:03:00 AM)

    Very funny in a macabre way. My fantasy was always to defenestrate awkward clients. But yours is far too close to reality in view of the appalling shootings in schools. So my suggestion is that the author should withdraw this piece. This is no comment on the quality of the writing which is very good.
    Tom Billsborough
    (Report) Reply

  • (2/6/2015 11:21:00 AM)

    ...and I thought the paddle was a bit harsh back in my own grade school.... But then Sister Delores was certainly no poet... But I'm certain this would have been in her dreams. (Report) Reply

  • Captain Herbert Poetry (4/25/2014 8:05:00 AM)

    the world and nature is the true classroom. I love and like this poem (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • 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

  • (9/22/2013 9:49:00 AM)

    its time to reevaluate your teachas people (Report) Reply

  • Vishal Sharma (7/25/2013 4:37:00 AM)

    nothing can describe a classroom more than this poem (Report) Reply

  • Dragon Crenshaw (10/29/2012 3:01:00 PM)

    This poem discribe my old classroom at my old school. I love it. (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (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

  • (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

  • (7/17/2010 6:00:00 AM)

    As an ex-teacher, I salute you Mr McGoogh. (Report) Reply

  • (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

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# 36 poem on top 500 Poems

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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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