Teaching English through Poetry

the word poetry in 3D
03 Apr Shelley Vernon 2 Comments

Here is a poem by Abdul Hafeez Jhelumi, which I translated, from his book of Urdu poetry, published in Pakistan. For such a short poem so many questions arise and could be discussed in small groups. 

Author of poem Abdul Hafeez JhelumiOne sees the man at the gallows giving up his life to remain integrous. Who would do that today? It happened often in Europe during the religious wars. What historic events do your students know of when this happened? How truthful are people today? Many of our politicians lie to us routinely, but what about you, how truthful are you?

Then comes the quiet admission of great pain, but kept private. This is not some 'people' gossip magazine, where people reveal their innards  over glossy pages. This personal poem has dignity.

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do and share it with your students to help increase their appreciation of literature, while improving their English discussion skills.

Thank you Abdul for this concise, elegant and thoughtful poem and for allowing it to appear on this blog.



If I were Looking glass By Abdul Hafeez Jhelumi


Never ever in my life,

Would I lie for expediency

Even before the king, even at the gallows,

Only and only truth I’d speak,

If I were Looking glass,


But for being human,

I’m born to be shattered ceaselessly, dear.

Sometimes by shock,

Sometimes by fatal pangs of separation,

If I were Looking glass,

Surely I'd be crashed into tiny pieces by ruthless stone.

But only once it happened – just once in my life.

If I were Looking glass.


woman looking at a smashed mirror
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Teacher luciano sent me this message and I wanted to share it with you. "I just loved the poem by Abdul Hafeez and how to work with it in small groups. THANKS A LOT! It's also a good idea to encourage students to write their own poem and read out loud in the classroom. What do you think?"
I replied to Luciano: Yes, that's a good idea. I would be inclined to let students work in pairs if they wish to. It can be a rather daunting task to write a poem, and some people don't have inspiration for that kind of thing. Reading a poem aloud can also be scary, a student might feel shy about it, or exposed, and worried the others will laugh! Remember that poems can be funny too, they could just be rhymes. Children's poetry is good to work with. Check out James Reeves. Also check out The Puffin book of Children's poetry, or other anthologies... The sea is a hungry dog, giant and grey, it rolls on the beach all day.........

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