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.
SUMMARY In this poem Roger McGough places himself inside the head of a young child who had just go to school for very first day in his life. The spelling errors in the poem and his misinterpretations of the words show his innocent mind and his limited vocabulary, giving readers an impression that this was written by a young child who has yet to have any school. 'to keep out wolves and monsters', 'things that carry off and eat children' shows that his mind has been exposed to fairy tales, which shows that he is really young. We can also see his ignorance towards school.
ANALYSIS OFTHE POEM
FIRST STANZA The
first line expresses childhood exaggeration and wordplay A millionbillionwillion miles from home In the second line he shows to us childs literal interpretation of what he has been told Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?) After that he become aware of something scary, that was the older children in the school Why are they all so big, other children? So noisy? So much at home they Must have been born in uniform.
He sees them as something alien and not like him and they also display alienation towards him. It is aware that to a 5-year-old and 6-year-old child is a potential threat, and that any child who is not in their first year at school will look down on those children and reject them as unworthy companions Spent the years inventing games That don't let me in. Games That are rough, that swallow you up.
SECOND STANZABeing alone and rejected, the child now looks around him and his attention is taken by the railings that surround the playground. He sees them first as being a protection from outside threats, which leads his imagination down a fresh path in which wolves and monsters from bedtime stories are associated with his parents admonitions not to take sweets from strangers
However, he then wonders if these railings are not prison bars designed to prevent his escape from other monsters that he should fear even more, namely the lessins that he has been told to expect. 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.
Without the necessary understanding, concepts such as lesson and classroom belong in the fantasy world of the childs vivid imagination. McGough reminds the reader that this was how he or she would have responded when they were that age. What does a lessin look like? Sounds small and slimy. They keep them in the glassrooms. Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.
THIRD STANZAIt begins with another sudden shift, this time back to the child himself. His mind switches back to the certainties in his life, particularly his mother who only left him a few minutes before but whom he misses already. The mention of his pet name for his wellington boots, his yellowwellies, is enough to bring back his fear of the unknown and his desire for the comfort of his mothers presence. 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.
However, the poem ends on a more positive note, because another word he has been given is teacher, and he knows that a teacher is not a monster even if he is unsure precisely what a teacher does. McGough end the poem with another childish misunderstanding, as well as the appreciation that many young children do not know their own name, having not had occasion to use their surname in their life up to this point I think my name is sewn on somewhere Perhaps the teacher will read it for me. Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.
Point Of ViewFirst point of view
to your school environment.
ThemesFeeling of children during his first day at school
or a pattern of the same vowel
sounds) - A millionbillionwillion miles from homeHyperbole
- A millionbillionwillion miles from homeThere
is no rhyme in the poem.
stanza 2,line 12,the tone is childish: -Are they to keep out the wolves and monsters?Sometimes
the tone is fearful(stanza 1 line 9): -That are rough, that swallows you upSometimes
the tone is curious(stanza 2 line 17) -What does a lessin look like?
epitomizes the innocent ignorance, misunderstandings and insecurities of a child on his or her first day in school, while simultaneously capturing the spirit of childhood innocence and curiosity. The poem has become a beloved looking glass which peers into the mind of a child entering the first stages of the real world. At times, it is confusing and comical, but it also offers a shadow of the childhood wisdom that adults lose sight of in later years.
The poem itself is written in a traditional format, lacking any poetic sophistication or clever techniques. It is almost certainly written this way purposefully, as a child would have no use for such sophistication. There is almost nothing in the poem that could be interpreted as a rhyme either. Rather, it mimics the kind of disjointed observations a child may make when presented with a new setting. The numerous misspelled words in the poem also serve to contribute to the feeling that this poem is written by a child, who lacks the literary training to know how to spell certain words correctly.
the content of the poem is also typical of the observations one could expect from a child. The child notes the appearance of the other children, the isolation of being left out of games (possibly because he or she is either shy or starting late as the "new kid"), the railings around the school, and his or her nervousness at being addressed by the teacher. The child observes that the other children must have had confined lives, or "must have been born in uniform" and are now releasing pent up energy. The child says that the other children's games are too rough and therefore isolating.
The separation from the other children, coupled with the nervousness at a new place with foreign things builds into a feeling of insecurity that dominates much of the poem. The child's impression of the school itself is also frightening, as he or she imagines that the railings may serve to keep out monsters. Lessons, or "lessins" are also give cause for concern, as the child believes they may be some sort of slimy creature, with classrooms, or "glassrooms" serving as their holding tank. The child also yearns for his or her mother, alluding to an understandable fear of independence.
Ultimately, however, there is a sense of both wisdom and optimistic curiousity in the poem. The child's implicit admonishment of the rougher children alludes to he or she being more composed and mature than the other children. Additionally, the final revelation that the teacher will be able to read the child's name tag, and perhaps make tea adds a sense of security and comic relief. The child seems prepared for the first day of school after all.