'the Reading Lesson' by Richard Murphy (Poem Analysis)

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The Reading Lesson

‘The Reading Lesson’ by Richard Murphy is about how education is harder to understand for some people, with the theme of education and nature. I will be discussing how Murphy conveys the emotion of dissatisfaction and to what extent he is successful in deepening our understanding of it throughout the poem.

The title of the poem itself has a double meaning as ‘The Reading Lesson’ is about a boy who is reluctant to be taught reading and the teacher has learnt a lesson: you can’t force people’s interest in what they have no interest in. The poem is about a boy who is unable to be educated to the teacher’s dissatisfaction. In the metaphorical sense it shows how the boy is stubbornly refusing to be taught and the teacher can’t force him as it just won’t make a difference, which frustrates the teacher further. The poet conveys how the boy represents wildness and disorder through the use of animals throughout the poem, which the teacher contrasts symbolises tameness and order, very much like with the words he is trying to teach and how it represents rules and organisation. This shows how the teacher is dissatisfied by the boy’s unwillingness to be educated and ordered. The structure of the poem contains four stanzas of seven lines each, the lines vary between four or five beats, and the poem therefore has a varying rhythm. This is further interrupted by different punctuations that Murphy uses to bring the teachers situation to life through the uses of full stops, questions marks, quotation marks, colons and commas.

In the first verse Murphy shows the teachers dissatisfaction through the use of metaphors. The poet sees through the eyes of the teacher and describes how the boy at fourteen years of age finds it difficult to learn the alphabet at his age. The metaphor Murphy uses is: He finds letters harder to catch than hares

Without a greyhound. Can’t I give him a dog
To track them down, or put them in a cage?

This comparison show that the...
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