This Prisoner Breathes

by Noshi Gillani

I am trapped in a jungle of voices
In which I cannot spread my wings
Even so, you insist that I take flight
You will not set me free
And are so offended by my point of view
That you stitch my eyelashes closed
You insist that I must explain the weather
Terrorise my feet with echoes of chains
You say that my desire to be free
Is too much for your precious jungle
Yet you set fire to the boat carrying my feelings
Surround this sea of feeling with desert sand
But listen!
Whatever happens ...
Suffocation, torture, desert or jungle
This prisoner breathes

The literal translation of this poem was made by Nukhbah Langah

The final translated version of the poem is by Lavinia Greenlaw


  1. November 30th, 2014 at 10:09 am

    sophie says:

    i think noshi gillani s trying to tell the readers of her poem to never give up on your opinons nad never to let anyone manipulate your way of thinking. and for as long as she breathes they will never win. i hoped this helped x

  2. October 2nd, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Samar Huusain says:

    Hi im 15 and we are doing this as a coursework so my opinion is...

    Actually if you look at Gillani's life she was a political person and fighted for rights. this poem is basicaly her being trapped in na very enclosed space where she cannot see any of her surroundings "you stich my eyelashes closed"

    it is her being inprisoned for speaking her mind which in the poem is not permitted. "are so offended by my point of veiw" 

    It is also as if that where she is, freedom is a luxury "You say that my desire to be free is too much for your precious jungle" 


  3. July 4th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Beth says:

    I'm not sure I agree with Naeem, I think she's the prisoner. She's been oppressed by males to get where she is as a successful poet and this is her way of coping with it. I guess you could say it is, therefore, in reference to her entire life.

  4. January 3rd, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    NAEEM says:

    Its not something particular, it is just a reference and there isn't any particular prisoner but as I understand is that it might refer todays human being. The troubles, the worries todays man got, it refers those things....

  5. December 31st, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Zambeel says:


    Noshi Gillani is a poetess par excellence. and she got where she is today after getting though a lot of male chavunism and other struggles. I'm not sure but my best guess is that the poem is in defiance to all those who tried to subdue her.

  6. November 22nd, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Saracen says:

    Why did Noshi Gillani write this particular poem? Is it in reference to something particular?