The Rebel by D. J. Enright

When everybody has short hair,
The rebel lets his hair grow long.

When everybody has long hair,
The rebel cuts his hair short.

When everybody talks during the lesson,
The rebel doesn’t say a word.

When nobody talks during the lesson,
The rebel creates a disturbance.

When everybody wears a uniform,
The rebel dresses in fantastic clothes.

When everybody wears fantastic clothes,
The rebel dresses soberly.

In the company of dog lovers,
The rebel expresses a preference for cats.

In the company of cat lovers,
The rebel puts in a good word for dogs.

When everybody is praising the sun,
The rebel remarks on the need for rain.

When everybody is greeting the rain,
The rebel regrets the absence of sun.

When everybody goes to the meeting,
The rebel stays at home and reads a book.

When everybody stays at home and reads a book,
The rebel goes to the meeting.

When everybody says, Yes please,
The rebel says, No thank you.

When everybody says, No thank you,
The rebel says, Yes please.

It is very good that we have rebels.
You may not find it very good to be one.

Short Summary

When everyone has short hair, the rebel sports long hair. When everybody lets his hair grow long, the rebel cuts his hair short. When others in the class talk, the rebel keeps silent. But when others are all quiet, the rebel breaks this silence. When other boys go to school in uniforms, the rebel puts on colourful clothes. When other boys are in fancy dress, the rebel’s dress is simple. If others are dog lovers, the rebel prefers cats. But in the company of cat lovers, he praises dogs. When everybody longs for sunlight, the rebel longs for rain. When others go to the meeting, the rebel stays at home and reads books. When everybody agrees, the rebel disagrees. The rebels are necessary because they help us look at life differently. But this practice will not suit everyone.


The rebel is a person who goes against set rules and laws. He does not like to follow them. He likes to do the opposite of what everyone loves to do.

The poem perfectly matches the title of the poem. The poet narrates in a very simple language, the adverse nature of a rebel.

The poet says that when everyone has short hair, a rebel would let his hair grow long. And when everyone has long hair a rebel would cut his hair short.

The poet further tells us that when everyone in the class is talking and interacting with each other, the rebel would sit absolutely quiet and when everyone is sitting quietly, the rebel would create a lot of disturbance in the class.

Similarly, when everyone comes to school in uniform, the rebel would wear some fancy, colourful clothes. And when everyone is playfully and colourfully dressed, the rebel would dress up very soberly.

As expected from a rebel, when he is in the company of dog lovers he would say he prefers cat and when he is with cat lovers he would express his love for dogs by praising them.

When everyone around him is praising and appreciating the sun, the rebel would talk about the need and importance of rain. If everyone around him is happy with rain, he would feel sad that there is no sun.

If everyone is going for a meeting in the presence of others, the rebel would stay at home and prefer to read a book and study. And when all are staying at home he would go out and meet people and not study.

True to his name when everyone agrees to take something he would refuse or say no and when all refuse, a rebel would say yes and ask for more.

The poet feels that it is good to love rebels but no one would like to be a rebel herself/himself.

The poet comprises in a couplets that in our society we do have rebels but they are not suitable or able to adjust with everyone. One should be flexible and easily accessible in one’s temperament and behaviour towards others.

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