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Exploring Satirical Poetry: McGough’s Perspective on Social Issues

May 17, 2023 | 0 comments

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May 17, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Poetry is a compiled literary work whereby special focus gets given to the expression of ideas and feelings by application of rhythm and style that is distinct. Poetry gets written and put across to convey issues, concepts, ideas in an imaginative and a vivid way. The essay will discuss how this gets achieved from McGough’s poems. The issues, concepts, ideas in the essay include how the student’s grading at school is unfair, artificial and arbitrary, the satire on the patriotic people, and the satire on the delinquent juveniles and their antisocial behaviors. The essay will discuss three McGough’s poems; that is “Streemin” “Why People Are a Bit Nuts in the Head” and “Nooligan” The poems of McGough are humorous, satirical and light. His efficient and successful poetry style allows personal and friendly approach to serious social and political issues sometimes. Satire gets used to ridicule, expose and highlight human, political and social stupidities. However, in the cases of McGoughs poems, the satirist aims to entertain, educate and change the situation through the humor.


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The manner in which students graded at schools is unfair, artificial and arbitrary. This issue is portrayed in the “Streemin” poem as it explains how the similarity of people upon their death and the school students based on their ability in academics, and this degrades their self esteem sense and narrows their chances in life. The “Streaming” poem gives a comment on how the school grading of the students is inappropriate. According to McGough, upon death of people, there exist no differences. Moreover, he uses colloquial language and words that got spelt wrong to show that the narrator academic ability gets limited and is in the “bottom streme”. The speaker persuades effectively the readers because having “divishns” is ironical during a lifetime when at the end they are the same. McGough’s thoughts got expressed in the “poem of streaming” of getting schools to be divided to separate students according to diverse academic ability. By using the voice of the students that are not bright, McGough mocks the streaming system by indicating that, in the cemetery, people are all the same.

In the McGoughs poem, “Why People Are a Bit Nuts in the Head”, the narrator satirizes the patriotic people by making emphasis on the importance of lives to people. The poem got written using the colloquial language and in the first person. For instance, the colloquial statement such as “have your belly shot away” persuades successfully the readers to try and do re-evaluation of their attitudes towards war. This gets substantiated by the argument of the narrator “lives are good for you” and giving examples of life enjoyment, such as going out with girls. Moreover, the comment about going with girls which is humorous targets a particular age group as this is the age bracket of the people who has the highest probability of getting sent to war. Similarly, by using the graphic imagery like “your seeds over the field”, the narrator persuades the readers and the entire audience to have a belief that, after all, life is good. This makes the poem to be more friendly and engaging when communicating with the audience and the readers. “Seeds spreading over the field” is a very strong image that reinforces the earlier argument that in reality, “patriots are bit nuts in the head”

In the poem of Nooligan, McGrough makes a satire on the juveniles who are delinquent and their behaviors that are anti- social. From his argument, he comments on their destructive actions that are stupid and their lack of intelligence when they behave in such ways. He further implies that just as the way they behave, the hooligans are stupid. From the poem, some words got spelt wrong to give them similarity in conversational context pronunciation. For instance, the words such as a “nooligan” “a nard” and “ead” got used to mean “hooligan” “a hard” and “head”. Furthermore, the speaker gets constructed as an ignorant person from the choices of vocabulary words, which are mostly, simple. Additionally, the narrator uses the pronoun “me” in place of “my” which is grammatically incorrect. The use of the pronoun further reinforces and cements the idea of a hooligan as an individual who is uneducated comparatively, or a person who has rejected any form of education. McGough makes a repetition of the first line in every stanza to emphasize that the narrator is a proud hooligan indeed. Furthermore, it suggests a limited and a simplistic view of the world and self. Different aspects of hooliganism get told in every stanza that is undesirable and antisocial. From the ending of every stanza which is similar, it shows how things are when compared to how the hooligan would desire to believe, and pretends or imagines they are.


In conclusion, McGough’s poems that apply the effective and successful poetry style allow personal and friendly approach to serious social and political issues sometimes. “Streemin” poem highlights on how the schools grading of the students is inappropriate. “Why People Are a Bit Nuts in the Head” poem satirizes the patriotic people by making emphasis on the importance of lives to people. Finally, the “Nooligan” poem satirizes the juvenile’s antisocial behaviors and their delinquency. By using the first person speakers and the colloquial language, McGough through his poems of “streaming”, “Why People Are a Bit Nut in the Head” and “Nooligan”, delivers his point of views and messages efficiently. His engaging approach simplifies and makes it easy for the readers to digest the messages portrayed easily and understand his persuasions. He persuades people to focus more closely on social issues than the other poets who are radical.

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