In many of U A Fanthorpe’s poems, she explores the themes of education and school. In my essay I am going to focus on two of her poems, Dr Mr Lee and Reports. I will discuss the similarities and differences between the two poems.

The poem Dr Mr Lee is written from the point of view of a student, writing to the author of a book “Cider with Rosie”. She is apologising for failing the exam and says how much she dislikes English and how much she enjoyed the book. Fanthorpe’s critical of the way English literature is taught and examined. The student shows this by writing to the author of the autobiography “Cider and Rosie” and apologising for failing the exam. Even though it wasn’t her fault and the student found the subject difficult, she still liked to read the book.

“I didn’t much like those questions about the social welfare of the rural community and the seasons as perceived by an adolescent”.

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The language used by Fanthorpe’s in the poem is effective in that It clearly illustrates the way the student feels and gives the reader a sense of what school is like from the students perspective. He uses a lot negative words towards Mr Smart and Shakespeare he also dislikes T Hughe and P. Larkin they are both poets that spoil the enjoyment of English.

“Mr Smart is roughly my least favourite person, and for Shakespeare (we’re doing him to). I think he’s a spelling disaster, with all those jokes”.

“T. Hughe and P. Larkin and that lot in our anthology, not exactly a laugh a minute pretty gloomy really.”

The tone of the poem is friendly. The student’s attitude towards Mr Lee is shown by words such as “Dear Laurie” and “(sorry)”. He brackets the word sorry to apologise for saying his first name. The poet uses only two full stops throughout the letter and jumps from one topic to another. This shows how excited the student is about Mr Lee, and creates the impression that the student is almost out of breath.

“I’d just like to be like you, not mind about being poor see everything bright and strange, the way you do, and I’ve got the next one out of the public library, about Spain, and I asked mum about learning how to play the fiddle, but Mr Smart says Spain isn’t like that anymore.”

In the poem Reports there is a teacher speaking to another teacher about what comments to use in students reports or there could be a teacher think to themselves about what comments they might use for students reports. The reader is initially inclined to sympathise with the teachers because of the difficulties they face when choosing acceptable comments to write about their students. However, Fanthorpe is expressing a different point of view which is by using meaningless comments and no care in reports; teachers are being unfair to their students because they are concerned about what they write in the reports.

“The good have no history, so don’t bother. Satisfactory should satisfy them.”

Fanthorpe’s use of language is effective by using short sentences, it seems like the words are trying to give instructions and it Is like they use a list of comments or follow a rule or framework, without really keeping the individual student in mind.

“Born at the Sound Beginning, We mover from Satisfactory to fair, then find the subject difficult, Learning at last we could have done better.”

The tone in Reports is confident, assertive authoritative.

In both of these poems, Fanthorpe is critical of the schools system. “Dr Mr Lee is criticising the way literature is taught by showing that the student never enjoyed English before and that exams spoil the enjoyment of English literature, for students like the one who writes this letter.

Reports is criticizing the way teachers use their comments in the reports. Really they don’t think about the students themselves. They write what come straight into their minds, or comments that won’t lead to much discussion or get the teacher into trouble. The difference between the two poems is that “Dr Mr Lee” is written from a student’s point of view and “Reports” is written from a teacher’s point of view.


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