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Poetry Lesson for Valentine's Day

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

The brilliant, John Hegley, has some fab poetry that can be easily adapted and played with in class. Take a look:

A Declaration of Need

by John Hegley

I need you like a novel needs a plot

I need you like the greedy need a lot.

I need you like a hovel needs a certain level of grottiness to qualify.

I need you like acne cream needs spottiness.

Like a calendar needs a week.

Like a colander needs a leek.

Like people need to seek out what life on Mars is.

Like hospitals need vases.

I need you.

I need you like a zoo needs a giraffe

I need you like a psycho needs a path

I need you like King Arthur needed a table,

that was more than just a table for one

I need you like a kiwi needs a fruit.

I need you like a wee-wee needs a route out of the body.

I need you like Noddy needed little ears.

Just for the contrast.

I need you like bone needs marrow.

I need you like straight needs narrow.

I need you like the broadest bean needs something else on the plate

before it can participate,

in what you might describe as a decent meal.

I need you like a cappuccino needs froth.

I need you like a candle needs a moth.

If it’s going to burn its wings off.


Which are their favourite similes and why?

Is this a traditional love poem?

Why is it funny?

Is it clever? (How does it use language/imagery/historical reference)

Activity 1

The poem in full also includes these lines. If you take out some of the words can they guess what they are. Take out some nouns and take out some of the nouns they need.

I need you like a bully needs to boast.

I need you like an ocean needs coast.

I need you like a doggy needs a lamppost.

I need you like a copper needs a crook.

I need you like a cranny needs a nook.

I need you like a lookalike needs somebody to look like.

Activity 2

Can they come up with their own?

Love Poem by My Dog

By John Hegley

I saw you in the park

I wanted to be your friend

I tunnelled my snout

up your non-barking end.

Love Cuts by John Hegley

Love cuts

love juts out

and you walk right into it.

Love cuts

love comes and goes

love’s a rose

first you smell the flower

then the thorn goes up your nostril

love gives you chocolates

then love gives you the chop

it doesn’t like to linger.

Love cuts

love shuts up shop

and shuts it on your finger

love cuts

what isn’t very nice is

love leaves you in slices.

Love cuts

love’s very sharp

a harpoon through an easy chair

a comb of honey in your hair

just wait until the bees come home

and find you just relaxing there.


1) What does the poet think about love and how can you tell? Give examples from the text. PEE (POINT, EVIDENCE, EXPLAIN)

2) Which example or examples do you think give the strongest imagery or are the most powerful here and why?

3) Why might the narrator say these things about love? (Inference)

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