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

  • Petals Azureblue (8/11/2018 8:56:00 PM)


    Astounding imagery....a teacher who takes no nonsense....as I believe the violence depicted is analogous.. Silence shuffled forward with its hands up in the air...order in class reigned at last. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • (5/21/2018 3:23:00 AM)


    A masterful use of irony to denounce violence in schools.
    I see a connection between this poem which tells the story of a teacher going amok and a Chilean movie, Relatos salvajes, which tells the story of various people on the edge of a nervous breakdown (this is an understatement) .
    A brilliantly outrageous way to use violence so as to make it visible
    (Report) Reply

  • (5/20/2018 7:23:00 PM)


    this is is hahahahhhahahahhahahhahahaha i will put A COPYRITE claim as this contains violence. i hated it because it had so much violence and the teacher should get arrested. this is a fantastic news source (Report) Reply

  • (5/20/2018 7:18:00 PM)


    this is a amazing poem i really enjoyed the part where they raped all the
    black s
    (Report) Reply

  • (4/30/2018 2:33:00 AM)


    It is amazing how many people have missed the point here. I look forward to telling Roger McGough how I used this funny poem in class. (Report) Reply

  • (4/4/2018 8:42:00 AM)


    Haha, talk about a cat amongst the pigeons! A breath of fresh air in these stultifying times of political correctness! ! (Report) Reply

  • (3/20/2018 12:04:00 PM)


    This poem was written over thirty years ago, to condemn it for the subsequent societal developments in the US is just silly. (Report) Reply

  • (2/27/2018 6:45:00 PM)


    not funny at all why is a school massacar funny (Report) Reply

  • (2/27/2018 6:43:00 PM)


    play overwatch ps4 rules (Report) Reply

  • (2/27/2018 6:41:00 PM)


    I'm sorry but I don't find massacres funny (Report) Reply

  • (2/27/2018 6:38:00 PM)


    why do we do this it is stupid whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy (Report) Reply

  • (2/27/2018 6:38:00 PM)


    this is stupid why is this a poem it is ment to be a humour poem but it is stupid (Report) Reply

  • (2/27/2018 3:24:00 AM)


    There is no such word as nooligans. The word is hooligans. (Report) Reply

    (6/21/2018 11:04:00 AM)

    The mode of speech where McGough comes from frequently drops the initial 'h' from words...so hooligan becomes ooligan when speaking. When needed, the indirect article has to be an and so you get an 'ooligan which then glide together to become a nooligan. McGough is making a reference to this and he knows perfectly well that the word should really be as you suggest.

  • (2/22/2018 12:55:00 PM)


    This poem should be compulsory reading for NRA supporters who think arming teachers will solve massacres in schools (Report) Reply

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


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

  • 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

    (4/17/2018 9:19:00 PM)

    He wrote it in the 70's in England. It's a metaphor about how difficult it can be to teach a classroom, like fighting a war. Unless he was somehow psychic, you can't judge a 40 year old poem by today's events.

  • (11/15/2017 2:07:00 PM)


    I have learnt my lesson. (Report) Reply

Read all 134 comments »

# 39 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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