What shall we do with the English teacher…

English Teacher

Now that it’s nearly three months since my last English lesson, here’s a drunken homage to D. H. Lawrence (The Last Lesson) in which, late at night, and with all the marking still to do, the tipsy English teacher holds forth to his long-suffering wife…

“…and glory be to God for Gerard Manley Hop Skip and a Jumpkins-he had them all hurrahing in harvest- What? Oh yes, I’ll have another-
Alliterative loveliness lured them all out of their golden, treasuried Palgravias.
Thank you. Cheers.
Where’s my mark book? And my red pen?
Among those things
Under the sofa? In those days,
It took a sterner voice to fight their faithless doubting. Thomas
Stearns Eliot’s comPounded waste of shame’s enough to drive a decent man to drink.
Or woman, thanks. D’you s’pose that poets ever think
Their verses, fouled by leaking ink,
Misunderstood by crouching anxious children… God, what’s this they’ve set? Oh no,
Here’s poor dead Shames us Heaney. Bet he didn’t know
He’d end up vivisected so,
Post-mortemed really, yes,
His father’s shiny rump selected by the Board,
Quite unironic-
As an examination topic.
I’ll do the bloody marking in a minute when I’ve had
Another. It’s his potato poem, don’t you know?
The one in which the youthful poet’s dad
Digs bending down with slicing spade for spuds and he- the grown up Heaney- digs
For meaning in the peaty bog of language with his pen and finds
Fine tubers of truth, oh yes, smooth pebbles of salvation, from earth of Ireland.
Island? No. Man is one. Ha. Or Wight. All right, I’m Donne, done!
No marking tonight.
Top up? Let’s finish off the bottle.
No, I’m far too tight.
If I don’t finish off the marking what’ll…
They care?
Another day is neither here nor there.
Drink’s all- apart from you, my Dear!- that keeps me from despair.
It won’t be long before the last end of school bell
(Hear it not, drunken!)
Summons me to heaven, or to hell…”

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