Treasure Island

Roger McGough

(November 9 - 1937 / Liverpool / England)

First Day at School


A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent the years inventing games
That don't let me in. Games
That are rough, that swallow you up.

And the railings.
All around, the railings.
Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
Things that carry off and eat children?
Things you don't take sweets from?
Perhaps they're to stop us getting out
Running away from the lessins. Lessin.
What does a lessin look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there's puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/6/2014 1:48:00 AM)

    The theme opted for the poem is world wide accepted reality of a human being of this time and future times where the children have to face a day the first day to school which could not forgotten in a lifespan one gets in this world. The day starts to the journey of education life of the little one and through this journey there will be several bushes and trees which may have thorns and good fruits as well as streams and rivers to cross. The first day to school is very much amusing to remember when it pertains to an old man who have joined in a village school with accompany of father or mother or guardian of near relation one remembers. The new books dresses, the smell of new ones and the new faces of children around him in school, the crying ones, the story telling ones, the bags of different colours all are amusing and interesting. The poet had done the poem very well and it is very interesting to read. (Report) Reply

  • Anya Scherbak (3/5/2014 1:26:00 PM)

    Honestly I’m not to much of a poetry person, but I like the poem «first day at school» by Roger McGongh, because we can feel what the child feels, can see the world through his eyes. Also I find this poem amazing because Roger Mcgongh uses strange words as such glassroom, lessin and millionbillionwillion. It makes the poem interesting and unusual for us. This poem describes the feelings and emotions of the child, who goes to school for a first time. The child feels fear. I think that he was afraid, because he was 5 years old. In America children go to school at the age of 5 years. And in Russia children go to school at the age of 6-7 years old, so they feel more confident, than American children. As for me, I remember my first day at school. Unlike this child I wasn’t afraid and felt confident, because my mother told me only good things about the school and because I was a sociable and friendly child. I liked my first teacher and I found new friends at once. I believe that children shouldn't go to school too early because they aren't psychologically ready for it (Report) Reply

  • Kristina Matveeva (2/19/2014 11:52:00 AM)

    Honestly, I'm not too much a poetry person, but I like poem First day at school that was written by Roger McGough, because it's full of strange words such as millionbillionwillion glassrooms that make this poem different from others, so it's very unusual. This poem describes feeling of a boy, who goes at school for the first time, so we can see the world through his eyes, that's why this poem makes me feel nostalgic, I remember my first day at school...but unlike this child I was not scared of teachers and children in the high school did not seem to me so big, I knew what do classroom and lesson mean, because I went to a kindergarten where we had lessons and my mother told me different things about school. I quickly made ??friends because I was very sociable and friendly child, and our teacher was cute, that's why I had nothing to fear.
    In America children go to school at the age of 5 or even 4.. I went to the kindergarten in this age, so that's this boy missed his mother and was afraid of school, he is very small.
    I'm fond of this poem and I'd read something like that. (Report) Reply

  • Alena Kataeva (2/18/2014 12:20:00 PM)

    This poem didn't touch me at all, to tell the truth. My memories of the first school day are completely different. Children were not so big and teachers not so terrible. And I didn't miss my mum. I think our disagreements are connected with geographic factors: Russian children start school later than American ones, so they are more confident and psychologically prepared for school. That is why it is not so dramatic for them. The method of using the wrong words can seem interesting at first sight but in my opinion it is not suitable because the general tone of this poem is not so childish. Maybe I didn't understand the message of the poem but anyway this is not for me. (Report) Reply

  • Ehtibarova Ayshan (2/17/2014 10:48:00 AM)

    The poem attracts the reader’s attention by its childness and innocence. How striking the child’s fear at the first day at school is described. On the one hand, the reader can laugh throughout the poem because of the wrong spelling of some words (willion, glassrooms, lessin) by the character. On the other hand, the reader can feel sympathetic to the child as he is afraid of the uncommon world of a school, classrooms, lessons, teachers and pupils: everything in this world is alien to him, so the child is confused. (Report) Reply

  • Akanksha Bhatt (10/1/2012 10:37:00 AM)

    this poem makes me smile too! Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea hahaha! well! . really its awesome. i really feel this is the thinking of a small child! (Report) Reply

  • Akanksha Bhatt (10/1/2012 10:37:00 AM)

    this poem makes me smile too! Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea hahaha! well! . really its awesome. i really feel this is the thinking of a small child! (Report) Reply

  • Ian Fraser (2/17/2009 5:17:00 PM)

    It reminds me of the famous joke in Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie. The teacher tells Laurie to 'wait there for the present' but he goes home never having got one.... (Report) Reply

  • Mariana Balestrini (9/8/2007 5:10:00 PM)

    I am a teacher and this poem has touched my soul deeply as well as it has made me remember my days at kindergarten. What a fantastic poet with such a sweet view! (Report) Reply

  • Joe Parslow (9/12/2006 2:54:00 PM)

    We examined and perfromed this poem in a GCSE Drama lesson. I found it an extremely evocative poem and it really let our group explore our dramatic devices. We performed the poem and we were told that it was a perfromance standard piece so i thank the poet for giving us such a fantastic piece to work on. (Report) Reply

  • Lee Ann Schaffer (8/13/2006 1:53:00 PM)

    I simply adored this. It was so effectively evocative - even though I never attended school in the UK. Well done. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Prato (2/10/2006 2:43:00 AM)

    I remember my first day at school. All the children appear so big and bold. Two of them were wearing masks of animals and running around. I felt lost and frightened. My mother was nowhere to be seen. The tables and chairs were so small, and in the afternoon we had to sleep with our head upon the table. I don't remember anything about tea, but we drank powdered milk. Oh, this poem brings back memories. The poet has got into the skin of the child and truly empathized. (Report) Reply

Read all 26 comments »

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