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Words That Burn - dream through poetry


First watch ‘2019’s Best Bits’. 

In this short clip we see groups of people who share common human rights concerns and a dream for change. By collaborating they have made a real difference to people’s lives and have changed laws and societal structures for the better.

As a poet, you can use exploration and expression to connect with others who share your dreams. 


Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes ©Van Vechten Trust

Langston Hughes (1901-1967) was an American poet, writer and social activist. His poetry sought to reflect a transparent experience of working-class black lives. During the civil rights movement he was a columnist for newspapers the New York Post and the Chicago Defender.

Read Langston Hughes poem ‘I Dream a World’:  

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind
Of such I dream, my world!

Now reflect on the poem:

  • What do you like / dislike about the poem?
  • Do you relate to anything in the poem? Any part, word, image or phrase?
  • What questions does it raise?


Concentric Circles

Draw three concentric circles. 

  1. Central circle: Write human rights changes that you would like to see in your local community.
  2. Middle circle: Write human rights changes that you would like to see in your country.
  3. Outer circle: Write human rights changes that you would like to see in the world. 

(summary version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Write a three-stanza poem imagining the changes at each level: local community, country, world. Each stanza should start ‘I dream…’

Reflect on your poem. Who can you connect with that might share your dreams? This could be family, friends, local community groups or national institutions and organisations. How might you collaborate to create change? 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Words That Burn - bitesize poetry series 

Explore more about the power of poetry with our other bitesize blogs:

The Words That Burn bitesize poetry series explores the power of poetry and suggests writing activities you can try at home. For full teaching resources visit

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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