Teach This Poem: "Love at First Sight" by Wislawa Szymborska
Produced for K-12 educators, Teach This Poem features one poem a week from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom. The series is written by our Educator in Residence, Dr. Madeleine Fuchs Holzer, and is available for free via email.
This song is recommended for middle school and high school, but teachers should use their own discretion.
- Whip-around: Go quickly around the room asking your students for one one-word association they have with the word love. If a student does not have an idea, it is fine for them to say “pass,” but remind them you will come back to them when the rest of the class has finished.
- Play the audio of “The Book of Love” by Magnetic Fields. Ask your students to write down words and phrases they hear that jump out at them. Play the audio a second time. This time, ask your students to write down how this song makes them feel. What in the song makes them feel this way?
- Ask your students to get into pairs to share their answers to question #2.
- Project the poem “Love at First Sight” by Wislawa Szymborska so all your students can see it. Ask them to read the poem silently, writing down all the words and phrases they think are important. Ask one student to read the poem out loud to the class, while the listening students continue listing the words and phrases that jump out at them. Ask another student to read the poem to the class, repeating the same process.
- Ask your students to gather in groups of four to share what they have noticed.
- Whole-class discussion: What does the speaker in Szymborska’s poem say are the “signs and symbols” of love? How do these relate to the characteristics of the song “The Book of Love”? Make sure your students back up their interpretations with evidence from the poem and the song.