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D.H. Lawrence

Last lesson
of the afternoon

Easier questions to cut your teeth on!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 1 March 2014
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The poet is at the end of his tether. He is a teacher who has lost his zest for teaching.

Indeed, he can no longer see the point of attempting to drag his pack of unruly children into an appreciation of anything.

He makes the decision to give up and save his strength for himself. He will simply pass the time waiting for the bell to ring.


David Herbert Lawrence was born in Nottinghamshire in September 1885, the fourth child of an uneducated coal miner.

This working class background, together with constant friction with his illiterate and drunken father, provided him much material for his later poetry, novels and short stories.

He initially went to Beauvale Board School but then won a scholarship to attend Nottingham High School.

His first employment was as a junior clerk at a surgical appliances factory until forced to resign because of T.B. It was during his period of convalescence that he gained his extreme love for reading, writing and poetry.

From 1902 to 1906, he served as a student teacher in his hometown of Eastwood, whereupon he studied and acquired a teaching certificate from University College, Nottingham.

It was during those years that he wrote his first poems, some short stories, and a novel which was published as The White Peacock.

The young Lawrence hated teaching -- a theme made clear in his poem "Last Lesson of the Afternoon" -- but luckily his writing ability caught the eye of major publishers and enabled him to follow a professional career as a writer and an artist.

He achieved a massive reputation as a novelist and a poet. His most famous books were Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterly's Lover.

During the 1st World War, Lawrence was accused of spying for the Germans and was constantly harassed by the British authorities. As soon as the war ended, therefore, he left England to live in Italy -- where he wrote his now famous poem "Snake".

He died of T.B. in March 1930 while at a sanatorium in France. He was just 45 years of age.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

When will the bell ring, and end this weariness?
How long have they tugged the leash, and strained apart,
My pack of unruly hounds! I cannot start
Them again on a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt,
I can haul them and urge them no more.
  • What is a sustained metaphor? (2)

[Need help?]

  • Why does Lawrence describe his learners as a "pack of unruly hounds"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • Which of the following words BEST describes "quarry" in the context of this stanza:


    Don't forget to explain your reasons. (4)

[Need help?]

No longer now can I endure the brunt
Of the books that lie out on the desks; a full threescore
Of several insults of blotted pages, and scrawl
Of slovenly work they have offered me.
  • How much is "threescore"? (1)

[Need help?]

  • What then is "a full threescore of several insults"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • What do you think the poet means when he speaks of having to "endure the brunt of the books that lie out on the desks"? (4)

[Need help?]

  • In this stanza, the poet appears to be angry. Why is this so? (4)

[Need help?]

What is the point of this teaching of mine, and of this
Learning of theirs? It all goes down the same abyss.
  • What is an "abyss"? (2)

[Need help?]

  • What does the poet mean when he says that "it all goes down the same abyss"? (4)

[Need help?]

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See also:
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