Lawrence School Poems

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David Herbert Lawrence was an English novelist, poet and playwright. In 1908 Lawrence qualified as a teacher and found employment at Davidson Road School in Croydon. According to the author of D. H. Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider (2005): "He found the demands of teaching in a large school in a poor area very different from those at Eastwood under a protective headmaster. Nevertheless he established himself as an energetic teacher, ready to use new teaching methods like performing the Shakespearean dramas they had as text. "Best of School" and "Last Lesson of the Afternoon" are two poems about his experiences as a teacher. Quite extraordinarily, they present two completely contrasting views. “Best of School” is about the pleasure a teacher experiences while partaking his duties as a teacher, while “Last Lesson” speaks about the unpleasant task of teaching.

“Best of School” begins with an image of the “boys and the room in a colourless gloom of underwater float”. The poet compares the boys working in a classroom to an underwater scene. Their ideas and thoughts are like “bright ripples”. Their ideas are defined as “bright” because they are young boys and full of creativity and innovation. These boys’ heads are ‘busily bowed” in pursuit of knowledge, they are completely blind to the outside world. The teacher separates himself from the boys as a passive spectator sitting “on the shores of the class”. The pupils require no external help from him; they are a single entity, united in their pursuit of knowledge. They tend to look up to him from time to time to gain morsels of inspiration for their work and then carry on working busily. “Having got what was to be had”, he stresses the fact that he does not actively take part in the children’s learning process, it is natural and voluntary. The “ripening morning” echoes the ripening thoughts of the young boys and in the “sunlight” reflects the light of knowledge and intellect. “Last Lesson”, on the other hand is an...
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