I am going to compare two poems, which portray different aspects of school life for children. The first poem that I will be analysing is “Leaving School”, written by ‘Hugo Williams’, this is basically about a child’s experience of starting school. The poem that I will compare to this is “Dear Mr Lee”, written by ‘U.A. Fanthorpe”, this poem is about the emotions of a pupil towards ‘Mr Lee’ (a writer). In order to identify various areas I shall be looking at content, style, language, theme and tone.
The content of “Leaving school” describes a brief summary of what starting boarding school is going to be like, also the poem starts with a lot of description “I was eight… wearing a grey flannel suit” this successfully sets the scene and gives the readers and indication of the child’s age.
The child has a lot of expectations of starting school such as “I thought it was going to be fun”, the child expects the school to be ‘fun’ his brings back any memories he had of school when he was younger. This is also a sign of maturity and growing up his old experience is a contrast to his experiences now i.e. his previous less- stressful and less experience pressure of work. However now the teachers expect full concentration on work.
The child does feel lonely in he second stanza, “I’d read before like the Billy Goat Gruff books”, at this point the readers realise how children can be once they are isolated from the usual routine they used to have. This is done by how the child is speaking as if he is sill in his own school and nothing has changed. Acceptance is a big part learning to accept that you are in a school with new people and new rules is a difficult task to adapt. “Then I started saying nothing”, this quote shows lack of confidence and self-esteem it indicates while adapting in the environment a sense of loneliness and isolation comes into place.
However “Dear Mr Lee” is about an older pupil’s experience at school. This poem is more mature and formal. The pupil has experiences of exams, which help him to increase his confidence and face challenges. The student criticizes his teacher’s and judges their personalities by the way they speak or act, “Mr Smart is roughly my least favourite person”, this is due to the fact that the child does not like English so much and finds doing ‘Shakespeare’, is a difficult task with all the type of languages he uses. The child then goes on to complain “and as for Shakespeare… I think he’s a national disaster”, this is also very humorous. There is also criticism on how children are assed at school by answering questions and behaviour. “They’ll be looking for terse and congent answers”.
In conclusion the content of “Leaving School” is about an experience of a younger child. The difference in “Dear Mr Lee”, is that the view is from an older prospective of starting school both views show positive and negative impacts.
The style of “Leaving School” shows that the language the poet uses creates an affective image of a child; this is indicated from the tile “Leaving School”. In the first stanza the poet uses surprising and logical connections between ideas” Of timetable as a game of Battleships”, this quote shows the two different categories the child tries to match in the same sentence.
There are also simple sentences used throughout the poem “I had my own suitcase”, this quote shows little complications, and gets straight to the point, which gives the poem an easy flow. Also during this poem there is deformed grammar such as capital letters used in the middle of the sentences. “Wife came round fro Inspection” this quote shows a simple mistake of grammar, which only a child would normally make. In the poem there are uses of surprising statements without any explanation. “Liked all the waiting we had to do in school”, this quote shows confusion that the child seems to have. The poem has run on lines which indicate the child’s lack of sophistication in the style of writing as suppose to an adult, E.g. “You’re supposed to take off you shirt and vest after you’ve put on you pyjama bottoms”.
In comparison the style of “Dear Mr Lee” is written in a form of a letter. Throughout the poem there are three main characters these are the pupil, teacher and examiner. The pupil conveys different aspects of school life to the writer ‘Laurie Lee’. The teacher gives a negative response to the child, and the examiner gives instructions to write exams and essays. The poem has a lack of grammar and punctuation. There is evidence by this as for there is only two full stops in the poem which shows he child’s ability towards language.
Here are italics used in the poem to show different voices of characters speaking. The style of the sentences are irregular there are some short, some long. This makes the poem hurried as if the pupil wants to give his message to Laurie Lee it also shows excitement, “Bur that’s how I think of you, having lived with you. This is a run off line where a comer is breaking up the sentence.
As a result the style of “Leaving School”, is more simple and easy to read. However as fro “Dear Mr Lee” there is confusion between the sentences.
The tone of “Leaving School”, gives details on the child’s prospective of school. It is a similarity on a adult looking back on his child hood and remembering all the positive and negative things trough life. It is an image looking back on how this situation might have been like for a child. “I liked all the waiting we had to do at school”, a positive aspect, “I was so far away from home I used to forget things”, negative as you can clearly see these points go throughout the poem, these are memories being re-lives.
Although this poem is written from a the pupil ‘Hugo Williams’ sets a clear view of what boarding school is going to be like from his point of view as a poet. The readers realise the child’s feelings and thoughts also his surroundings and atmosphere. The audience sense loneliness and confusion “because I’d forgotten to hang something up”, this is a deliberate act of confusion and loneliness.
In comparison the tone of “Dear Mr Lee” describes the tones as ‘chatty and informal’ as for this poem reflects on a letter /conversation that a child might have one on one with another person. The audience can clearly sense that the voice in the poem is the boy’s. During the poem we can sense other voices which are the examiners it is here where the tone changes and becomes more ‘formal’, “Social welfare in the rural community… seasons as perceived by an adolescent”, the way this sentence is written is very formal which now makes the poem much more adultery of language.
In conclusion to one “Leaving School” gives mainly the boy’s voice, but “Dear Mr Lee” has three main different voices, which are the pupil, examiner and teacher.
The theme of “Leaving School” describes he child’s childhood, which he is remembering. “I was eight when I set out into the world”. This quote tells the readers when the child had experience of reality of school life. In this poem expectation comes into place the child expects many things to happen when he enters his new school “I thought it was going to be fun”, this adapts into loneliness and confusion as the child finds I difficult to adapt in his new surrounding.
The theme of “Dear Mr Lee” shows a sense of maturity a sign of growing up. There are a lot of themes based in this poem such as criticism of exams, “I didn’t much like those questions” this quote is referring to the pupil giving a negative response to what the examiner has given as exam questions or essays. The relationships between the pupil and his teacher is not very positive, the way in which the pupil describes the teacher the audiences gets an impression that the teacher and pupil do not get along this is also to do with the fact to the boy not liking English “Used to hate English” and the way the teacher teaches. Also telling younger public that studying literature can spoil the enjoyment of life on how things are negatively guided.
In termination the theme of “Leaving school is more about the boy’s point of view where as “Dear Mr Lee” is more up front with the audience giving personal advice and complaints.
Response By analysing both poems I have learned about children’s different experiences at school. I have realised that it can be difficult growing up and discovering new materials and subjects. I feel that you have you good days and bad days also have pupils have their favourite subjects and their boring subjects. Children have to learn to solve problems rather then giving up having to accept failure because the world goes on and we have to move on there is no time to waist!!