Roger McGough: The Life and Work of a Performance Poet

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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Roger Mc gough is a well-known English performance poet who was born in November 9 1937. Mcgough was born in Litherland in North Liverpool a city where he is firmly associated. He was educated at the University of Hull. Currently he presents a radio programme on BBC four known as Poetry please and he records voiceover for commercial as well as performing his own poetry regularly. He writes poetry drama fiction and screen plays. He was a pop star who was in the band "scaffold".

Mcgough is a poet who relates his poem to the issues, which really affect the people directly or indirectly. The poems in the coursework are "The lesson" which is a poem, which tackles issue of Capital punishment. It is themed on teachers and students but the punishment taken over there is totally different. The next poem is about funeral blues, which is written by WH Auden. This poem is the grief of the loss of his partner and we could say that might be the inspiration to write this poem and share the grief with the rest of the world. Then we move on to stop the entire car.

This is the parody of Funeral blues written by Roger Mcgough who is also writing the poem on the grief of losing the metro which went extinct after a few of years of it production and this poem is dedicated to the fans of the Metro. The next poem is Don Lockwood, which was then turned into s famous song, writes the Singing in the rain heavy. Love is abstract and there is nothing in this world that literally expresses love, but the poet of this poem has turned love into joy and that is the theme behind this poem. The title stands for itself- a man singing in the rain because he is in love.

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The last poem is the parody of the poem, which is known as stinging in the rain, which is written by Roger Mcgough. This poem is about tackling with global issues right now, which concerns most of the people, which is acid rain. The titles Roger Mcgough uses for his poem stands out itself. It delivers the message to the audience instantly and the audience knows what they can expect from this as no surprise is created in Roger Mcgough's creations. Titles have a dramatic effect on the capability of attracting the audience to read the poem and the titles Roger Mcgough uses are straight to the point.

Let's start off with the Lesson. Roger Mc Gough. The poet has introduced a new theme for the poetry world. The theme is hard to believe in reality. The lesson is all about violence and Mcgough has taken this all the way through his poem. There are only two types of characters in this poem and they are the teacher and the students. The difference of the poem starts off from whereas in the poem the teacher is a cruel and hard minded person whereas in reality it turns to be a role model for the students. The background or the plot is that capital punishment happens in classroom.

In 1980 UK corporal punishment in school was not rare and based on that Roger took it one step further and thought of having capital punishment in classroom. In this poem a lot is going on such as violence death pain humour etc. Rogher Mcgough has started off with reality as you walk in a classroom you could hear the noise of students screaming and this is how he starts off too. "Chaos ruled OK in the classroom". The line in this describes that the students are the ruler of the classroom who has the authority.

This sentence is a parody as Roger Mcgough has used this words in which he was familiar off as the words "Chaos ruled OK" was common in 1980's. Roger Mcgough through the First line he has introduced the students to the reader and the next aim was to show to the readers about the teachers as he says, "bravely teacher walked in". This sentence shows that the teacher comes over to the classroom to take over the control and the authority back from the students. This is what happens in reality but from now the silence of the poem begins.

The poet use violent language to show the intensity of the poem to the reader. He says, "Havoc wreaker ignored him". In this section he is assigning havoc wreakers as students as they are the trouble causers. From the strong words the poet wants to show that he regained the control over the classroom. This shows that he made a vibrant start to the lesson and now he is going to teach a lesson to the children. A lesson that they will never forget. The words he used to describe them are so intense. The word "havoc wreaker" is so strong and is so exuberant that it terrifies the audience.

Every lesson is based on a theme, and in this too the teacher starts off by saying the theme "The theme for today is violence". Roger Mcgough wants to include violence everywhere he can because that is the plot for the poem. He uses many words to give the poem the pace and tone to the stanzas. Words such as throttled him then and there, garrotted the girl have the tone and energy given to it. Then he says "the one with the grotty hair" The words used here are alliteration such as "throttled" and "garrotted" as mentioned earlier.

This word not only give the tone but give the punch and flow to it and keeps it at a constant flow rather than including hard words so that it would make s stop to the sentence and then continue. The mood of the poem is very scary as through reading the poem it shows several different aspects such as silence blood death and all scary things together. So through this it created the mood and atmosphere, which is negative. Roger Mcgough is spreading the seeds of violence throughout the poem. The poem says that "First come first severed". He used dark humour to spice up the poem.

The actual words were "first come first severed". Here he created a pun of violence. He used this ironically to exaggerate things As we move on the words of his poems have got a lot of meanings in it such as taking this two sentence and comparing it. "It struck with deadly aim" and he "continued with the game". The two sentences first of all have got a rhyme in it such as aim and game. In this he used many similes and it has very depth meaning. "The first blast cleared the back row they collapsed like rubber dinghies" This line in this section is a simile.

As we look at rubber dinghies, these are the materials kids play with and Roger Mcgough compared it as collapsing which something terrible is happening from a kid's perspective and this shows a contrast. Again he uses personification in this poem such as "Silence shuffle forwards". Again there is a contrast as in reality that silence can't shuffle forwards but Mcgough brought that to life. He uses Rhyme and rhythm for the poems and this structured the poem very well. In this poem the rhyme is organised in the second and the fourth lines of the stanzas.

Such as "aim" and "game", this gives a punch to the poem and these speeds up the line which are known as the iambic pentameter. He brought the soul into the words and that is one of the characteristics which would separate him from other poets Now as I move on to the conclusion Roger mc gough did not create this poem so that capital punishment would take place in school but to show to the world about the issues that are happening in this world. As Tom and Jerry, itchy and scratchy through violence conveyed a message it is the same what roger Mcgough is doing.

He wrote this poem to show the violence to the world though a comical manner. In this poem another thought he brings is the current situation of the world where peace and calm no longer exists in the way it existed. Roger Mcgough explores the black and treacherous world out there which includes the cruelties that is happening to children. He is exploring the different levels at which some children's are being tortured in this world and this is a wake up call for the people torturing to show some humane behaviour towards them. The poem shows that the outer world is harsh and it is hard to live in this sinful world.

Roger Mcgough just wrote some words into a paper but the meaning of it is endless. Now let's go to Funeral blues and stop all the cars. Roger Mcgough's titles are straight to the point and the evidence to back it up for this is the title for this poem. It is "Funeral blues". It doesn't show to the audience on what the can expect clearly. In the poem Funeral blues the poet WH. Auden expresses his grief of the death of his lover by commanding to the people. Auden uses his imagery to convey the feeling of sadness to the world. He does this by commanding to the people.

He says to the people "Stop all the cloaks" he is commanding this to the people to stop all the noises of clocks and let it remain in silence. The message also conveys that he wants the time to be stopped. This is the time his lover died and he wants to make the time still so he could enchant the precious moments. He wanted to take the time, back to the stage where his lover was alive and he wants all the imagination of them together. In the second stanza the tone he uses is the tone of despair. He says, "Let aeroplane circle overhead".

This again shows the assertiveness he brings into the poem. He is commanding in that sentence. At the first stanza he was commanding everyone to stop everything literally. By this he meant was to stop the world and now in the second stanza he wants to bring back all the noises of the aeroplane and wants to show his feelings and emotions out to the world and how much the lover meant to him and. This shows a contrast between two different thoughts. He is asking to bring back to extremities of nature. He is using the words, which is exaggerated or is hyperbole.

He is asking for something, which is almost impossible One of the key element which has to be pointed out is that Roger Mcgough has structured the poem very well as the first two stanzas just show that he is commanding to the people and he wants it to be done but the real fact is no one has the time and patience to do this all. Again he commands, "Let the traffic policeman wear black cotton gloves". These commands are not done by any of the people. They wont be doing this all because they don't know the seriousness of this or they don't feel the love given to his lover.

This sentence asking the policemen to wear black cotton gloves is a sign of respect and honour giving to the body but in the real world no one is doing it. Next is when someone die you would inform the relatives and share the grief but the poet uses a different way to convey the message to the world. He says "Scribbling on the sky the message he is dead". This sentence shows that he is doing the maximum to get peoples attention and he wants people to share his grief with the people but here is no one out there in the world who cares about the death of the lover of the poet.

The first two stanzas of the poem were all about the command and to do this and that. He wanted the things he said to be done but the stanzas in the last two stanzas rather than using imperatives for it he uses a different theme and create that imagery mood over there. He describes to people that the lover was everything to him. Every second of his life he enjoyed living with his lover. He describes to people that by saying "He was my North, my south, my east and west". The poet is saying that he was everywhere, wherever he goes his lover was with him as the poet goes "He was my working week and Sunday rest".

That describes that the poet wherever he was the lover as with him always. Then the pattern he created was different as the penultimate stanza it described all the love and emotion of the love and now to the last stanza it goes back again to commands but there is a difference he makes and it is that in the first and second stanza it is all about man made things and which is about our environment as aeroplanes policeman clocks etc but he is making a command to the nature as he says "Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; pour away the ocean and dismantle the wood".

The grief is so heavy that he asks for the things, which is literally impossible to accomplish. This shows the intensity of romance he has towards his lover. He would do anything for his lover because the lover was so precious to him. Auden in this poem all together he created a mood which starts off very sadly as he commands to everyone to share his grief and at last a tone comes in which shows that he has given up everything. STOP ALL THE CARS This poem is the parody of funeral blues written by Roger Cough.

Many people would regard parody as making the poem into a comical way but Roger Mcgough has done different. He has chosen a topic which was close to his heart and was loved my many people. He realises the pain WH Auden went through and he is writing an adapted version of it. This poem is all about taking the emotions and grief of WH Auden and brings in some of the funny thoughts of Roger and mixes them up. The poem is about the metro a car, which started its journey in 1980. This is a car, which was commonly used, but later the love towards it went down.

It was a car, which was loved, by lot of people but later it had to stop its journey in 1998 because while it went through a safety check the result was terrible, as the product after the crash was just pieces of aluminium. Roger Mcgough took this idea all the way through and wrote a poem known as "Stop all the cars" which is based on funeral blues. The idea, which he wanted to convey through this poem, was that he was changing the grief and emotions of WH Auden and brought some fun into it. This poem is about metro, even though it had a terrible result people loved the car and he wrote about the performance of the car and how it went.

As we go through the poem there are many similarities as the rhyme and rhythm was almost the same as in funeral Blues it starts off "stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone" but it changes into "Stop all the cars, cut off the ignition". He brings backs the same tune but into more humorous manner. There are similarities between the poems as in funeral blues the poet says let the policemen wear black cotton gloves and it says that wear a black dress or a morning suit. He have brought the soul of funeral blues to the poem as in funeral blues it say that Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead and it says that Let the traffic lights remain red.

The world I meant by soul is that he has used imperatives in the poem and that was the soul of funeral blues. There are more similarities in this poem as in the first line in the penultimate stanza of funeral blues it says that He was my north south my east and west and it says She was my rust bucket, my tin lizzie. So this shows that Mcgough have adopted the pattern to match the structure of the poem. There are some differences in this poem as in funeral blues he composed the poem in four short stanzas but in stop all the cars it is developed into five stanzas.

The poem is composed in rhyming couplets and this makes the rhythm more feel. In funeral blues the first two stanzas are about the environments and man built things but as we go to the last two it changes to nature gifts but it is different as this poem is about the bad things of the car and at the end surprise affection towards the car. As we look at the overall effect of the poem Mcgough didn't want to put this in the serious way that he hates the metro or to make the fans of metro disappointed but he wanted to just make a parody of funeral blues and that was the main reason.

Metro is a treasure for him because he has taken the time and effort to make a parody for this car, which shows his dedication ad his affection towards this car. Now we move on to Singing in the rain. This is a famous song from the movie singing in the rain. The poem is about a man who enjoys the rain. He is singing and dancing in the rain. The poem from the start gives a glimpse to the reader that the poem is about happiness because of the title itself.

The title is the main attraction of the poem and the poet takes this to the next level as he sings the humming "Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo" This humming is melodious and this maintains the happiness of the poem. The poet gradually uses this happiness into love as he says "What a glorious feeling". This symbolises that even though it is harsh weather the man is enjoying the rain because he is in love. The poet writes I am "laughing at clouds" this shows that his imagination of love is created is created in the clouds and this explains how happy he is being in love. Every film has a twist in it and the same has happened here.

The poem begins with a positive vibe but as it gradually goes the tone and the feeling goes into a negative stage because of the words he use. The poet says, "Let the stormy clouds chase". By this sentence he have taken off the all happiness atmosphere above and brought it back to normal. He has structured the rain as tears and the star as sadness is up above and stormy cloud and the ultimate outcome from it is rain. The other one is "So dark up above". This sentence brings in harsh words "Dark". These words take all the love and emotions from the poem away from anyone.

This word happy has been use a lot in the poem and this is the background of the poem and he has stressed on it. The poet wants to show to the reader that the mans life is full of life as he writes "A life full of you". This shows that he is in love to the extreme level Now lets move on to Stinging in the rain, which is the parody of Singing in the rain written by Roger Mcgough. He is a poet who tackled issues happening globally and some of the examples are the lesson, which tackles capital punishment. The poem also tackles serious issues, which is acid rain. He brings the intensity of the issue to the poem just by words.

It similar to the lesson in many ways as there is extreme violence and touch of humour in the poem. To start he gave the reader a thinking message by giving the title to read "stinging in the rain". There is a repetition if this line in the poem and this brings a flow to the start of the poem. He brings lots of techniques to the poem such as verbs and one of them was "burning my flesh, boiling my brain". This verb adds some extra effect as this is happening things and they all are strong words such as such as "burning" and "boiling" they all gives it an extra punch to the poem.

In the poem the poet brings a bit of rhyme as he says "crying and frying". These both words sound the same and again these powerful words give a flow to the poem. The poet adds excitement to the poem at the end as he says "What a glorious feeling". And dots say that more is to come but it won't come because the poem has ended. It suggests that more bad things will come. Now comparing "Stop all the clocks" which is an extract from the poem funeral blues and stinging in the rain. They have lots of characteristics in them. The poem stop all the clocks are full about emotion, pain and grief that build up the poem.

Funeral blues is about the disappointment of the loss of WH Auden partners and he wants the world to explore his feeling rather than to hide it. Now stinging in the rain is the parody of the famous poem singing in the rain written by Roger Mcgough. The poem is tackling with an issue, which many people are not aware of, and not taking any precautions to stop it. So this is awareness for the people about the issue. The poem uses many techniques such as alliteration. Comparing both of them they have got their own good qualities in them.

Now to the conclusion poems are just words which are written into paper. The thing, which brings it into life, is the imagination given to it. All the authors have brought that into their poem. Roger Mcgough and WH Auden have converted their feelings into words and the most wonderful thing that stroked to me is no the poem or the words of it but the techniques they use to approach to the readers. The repetition alliteration simile all brings the poem into life and these all-simple things make a big difference in the final product of the poem.

In the lesson the most attracted thing to me is the immense amount of violence Roger Mcgough brought into it with all the death and blood but he didn't keep the poem raw but added humour and pun such as "First come first severed" and this was an interesting point in the poem. The authority that changes from student to the teacher and the gap of time and the words were able to attract the audience. These all are the features that made the lesson my favourite poem. The poem funeral blues written by WH Auden who was in great grief about the loss of his partner and he gave the relief to it by expressing his feeling and emotions to the world.

Now to the poem stop all the cars, which were written by Roger Mcgough who gave a glimpse of hope to the fans of the cat metro, which had to stop production due to its bad review on health and safety measures. Mcgough gave hope to the fans that it was not a bad car but had the capability to attract peoples the poem was a big success. No ending it on the singing on the rain and stinging on the rain. The poem stinging on the rain was by Don Lockwood, which was a famous song. It was about a man dancing on the rain enjoying rather than many other people who were angry and disappointed with it.

He enjoyed the train so much because he was in love and the great depth of love made him that rain more excited than usual and stinging in the rain id the parody of the poem, which tackles with global issues such as Acid rain and how this would affect people and exaggerating about it. Love is a concept which Roger Mcgough explores in several different poems of his. The concept of love is so intricate that the ways to express the feelings by writing it is hard but Roger Mcgough was successful. Overall the poems had great techniques and each of them was unique due to the wonderful characteristics.

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Roger McGough: The Life and Work of a Performance Poet. (2017, Oct 02). Retrieved from

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