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The Lake by Roger McGough

The Lake Essay 1

Do you find ‘The Lake’ a funny or a frightening poem?

I find ‘The Lake’ funny and frightening at the same time. It is a comic poem that is also satirical, and voices a serious message about the consequences that our wasteful attitude to the environment will have. From the beginning of the poem the tone is disturbing. The final line of the first stanza is rich with menace, trailing off eerily: ‘But there is life there. There is life…’. Yet the language of the poem is also at time child-like and innocent. The pigs are said to have ‘piggy eyes’, and the poet also presents the pigs as strangely sweet and tame with expressions like ‘They love it here’ and ‘Rusty cans they like the best’. Nevertheless, the poem builds to a worrying climax. The pigs are terrifying omnivorous: they eat rubbish but also, horribly, ‘drowned pets’. (We are never told how these pets drowned, increasing the poem’s air of mystery). By the end of the poem they are getting ready to taste human flesh.

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