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The poem begins with a teacher describing his "weariness" and stating that he can no longer teach his students who have no motivation to learn. In the second stanza, the teacher says that he can no longer look at the "threescore" (sixty) books on the desks or read the carelessly written responses that the students turn in. The teacher essentially feels hopeless and questions the purpose of teaching. In the third stanza, the teacher comments that he will not waste his last bit of energy attempting to teach students who continue to insult him. The teacher refuses to endure any more of their abuse. In the fourth stanza, the teacher believes that his teaching and the students' learning are both futile pursuits. In the fifth stanza, the teacher asks "What is the point?" The teacher says that it doesn't matter whether the students can learn simple tasks like describing a dog. In the last stanza, the teacher says it is useless to waste his energy attempting to teach students who couldn't care less. The teacher finds it easier to wait for the bell to ring rather than struggle trying to teach the unruly students. Overall, the poem is about a teacher who is frustrated with his students and cannot wait for the bell to ring.
It is ironic that, in Last Lesson of the Afternoon by D H Lawrence, it is the teacher who is waiting for the school bell to ring to "end this weariness" and not the students. The children he is trying to teach are "My pack of unruly hounds" which shows how difficult it has become to impart any useful knowledge and he can "urge them no more." They show little respect for their subject and their books contain "several insults of blotted pages." He feels that it is a futile exercise due to the "scrawl / Of slovenly work that they have offered me."
The teacher questions whether he can be expected to "waste myself to embers for them" and use up "The last dear fuel" which suggests he will just burn out and there is no reason "to consume Their dross of indifference" which will reduce him to nothing more than "a heap of ashes of weariness."
The repetition regarding his "weariness" stresses his feelings. To ensure that he does not "hate them - I will sit and wait for the bell." It is clear to the reader that he is resigned to just waiting, thereby keeping "Some of my strength for myself."
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