Seeking refuge in poetry

I am

So I have left everything

But I am something.

I have left everyone

But I am someone.

I have left there

But I am here.

Something, someone, here, now.

September 2015


Links to poems about the refugee experience:

We can all be refugees

We can all be told to go,

We can be hated by someone

For being someone

From We Refugees by Benjamin Zephaniah.


These Strangers, in a foreign World,

Protection asked of me –

Befriend them, lest Yourself in Heaven

Be found a Refugee –

Emily Dickinson.


Once we had a country and we thought it fair,

Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:

We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

From Refugee Blues by W.H.Auden.


People run away from war.

Sometimes we get away.

Sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we’re helped.

Sometimes we aren’t.

From People Run by Michael Rosen.


I am Syrian.

Exiled, in and out of my homeland, and

On knife blades with swollen feet I walk.

From I am Syrian by Youssef Abu Yihea, translated by Ghada Alatrash.


You have to understand

That no one puts children in a boat

Unless the water is safer than the land

No one burns their palms under trains beneath carriages

…no one would leave home

Unless home chased you to the shore…

From Home by Warsan Shire.


Rest easy immigration department, for I won’t be a heavy burden on you,

Thank you dear sea for welcoming us without a visa or a passport. Thank you to the fish who will share me without asking about my religion or political beliefs,

Thank you to the news channels who will report the news of the deaths for five minutes every hour for two days,

And thank you for grieving us when you hear the news…I’m sorry I drowned.

From I’m sorry I drowned – anonymous.



It’s difficult to feel the edges of the words



‘crisis’, because

These words stretch round the things’ outsides, until

We can’t see the end of either’s fences,

We feel discomfort

From Bicske by Joanna Walsh.


About Eddie Playfair

I am a Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC) having previously been a college principal for 16 years and a teacher before that. I live in East London and I blog in a personal capacity about education and culture. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
This entry was posted in Learning resources, Poetry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Seeking refuge in poetry

  1. Eddie, some really touching poetry there, brought tears to my eyes


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