Let's take a different approach to exploring the poem "Scaffolding" by Imtiaz Dharker. You will need a pencil to draw with and a blank sheet of paper.
1. Main Image
Draw a very simple drawing of a house, with a roof, two windows and a door.
Study the first stanza of the poem and take note of the details given about this house. We are now going to add them to your drawing, either in words or images – or both.
2. First Stanza
Scaffolding is constructed around a building that is being built or renovated. It is a framework of poles and boards on the outside of a building, to help support it and to let the builders access all the different parts of it. This particular house is “shored up” with “ancient scaffolding”. A shore is a kind of scaffold, as it is a supporting post or beam.
Draw scaffolding around your house. It is probably very difficult, if not impossible, to draw ancient scaffolding, so after drawing the scaffolding, you can write the word ancient.
Instead of windows, this house has “the threat of bars” and like any normal house it has a door and a roof, but we are given details like a “damp roof” and a “door of tin”. Add these details in drawing or writing to your house.
Discussion question: if someone describes themselves as this particular house, what can that tell us about that person? Write down some thoughts on your piece of paper.
3. Second Stanza
In the first line of the second stanza, the personal pronoun “you” is introduced in the poem. “Would you take the time to walk into my face” is a set of everyday words, combined in a very creative way. Add this quotation to your piece of paper.
Task: Can you rephrase this quotation into everyday English?
In the second stanza, we meet another mysterious expression. After entering the house and moving “from room to room”, the “I” directs our attention to “the quiet space where I begin.” Find a way to add this to your drawing.
Discussion question: if we compared the image of a house to a body or a human being, what would be “the quiet place” where we begin?
4. Third Stanza
The third and final stanza is the moment the poem has been leading up to. It asks a simple question. Add this question to your drawing.
Discussion question: Interpreting a poem is often described as reading between the lines. If so, what lies beneath this question?
Consider everything you have down on paper, then go back to the title of the poem and see if you can link the two together.