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Hesitant by Brian Patten


He sees beyond her face another face.

It is the one he wants.

He stares at it in amazement;

There is nothing anywhere quite like it.

There is nothing else that’s wanted.

She sees beyond his face another face.

It stares at her in amazement.

She stares back, equally amazed.

Just why, she can’t quite answer.

She simply wants it.

These faces have been waiting now

A long time to be introduced.

If only the faces in front

Would do something about it.



“Writing poetry is my attempt to articulate what I feel, and because I am one human being among many thousands, and my emotions and longings are the same as theirs, I hope it will help them articulate feelings often locked away. Often poetry is the attempt to translate into words a world beyond words. The words are the clothes poetry wears – if the words are right, are bright and interesting they attract attention.

You may find you want to translate poems intoItalian, but translation is difficult, and sometimes it is dangerous for the poeem. A poem of mine was once translated into German and the owrd “foolish” came out as “stupid”, thus all the sympathy in the poem came to mean anger and dislike – because of one word.”

Brian Patten (born 7 February 1946, Liverpool) is an English poet. Patten's style is generally lyrical and his subjects are primarily love and relationships. Patten writes extensively for children as well as adults. He has been described as a highly engaging performer, and gives readings frequently. Over the years he has read alongside such poets as Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, Stevie Smith, Laurie Lee, and Robert Lowell.


Comprehension Activities

Pair Work

A. Two people are described in the poem, a boy and a girl.

1. What does the boy think about the girl?

2. Is the girl surprised?

3. What does the girl feel about the boy?

4. Has the boy done anything about his feelings towards the girl? Has the girl done anything to approach the boy?

5. What does the poet think they should do next?

B. Tell your partner about a similar true or imaginary experience you have had, when you were very attracted towards someone, and realized they were attracted towards you. What happened?


Write a short imaginative story about the two people in the poem, describing what happened to them. Don't forget to bring each of them to life by describing their appearance, their personality and character, where they lived, where they first saw each other and when each of them realized what they felt about the other one.