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English - At The Border

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by

Hannah Thorpe

on 6 February 2013

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Transcript of English - At The Border

At The Border Choman Hardi's context story Imagery About
choman
hardi. >> A Kurdish poet who is passionate about human stories from her knowledge of human immigration.
>> She became a refugee twice; once when she was a child and once when she was a teenager and her family was forced to flee.
>> She developed an interest in how people; particularly widowed women, dealt with the concept of genocide.
>> Broader sympathies for ordinary people in extraordinary situations are expressed throughout her poetry. 'The land under our feet
continued Divided by a thick iron chain' "At the border" addresses the myths and stories created by immigrants about there home lands.The poet describes how, at the age of five, she and her family crossed back into Iraq, the country where she had been born. subject matter: This gives the sense
that everything continues
on the other side of the
border, and they so
desperately want to get
there. At the Border, 1979
‘It is your last check-in point in this country!’
We grabbed a drink –
soon everything would taste different.
The land under our feet continued
divided by a thick iron chain.
My sister put her leg across it.
‘Look over here,’ she said to us,
‘my right leg is in this country
and my left leg in the other.’
The border guards told her off.
My mother informed me: We are going home.
She said that the roads are much cleaner
the landscape is more beautiful
and people are much kinder.
Dozens of families waited in the rain.
‘I can inhale home,’ somebody said.
Now our mothers were crying. I was fie4ve years old
standing by the check-in point
comparing both sides of the border.
The autumn soil continued on the other side
with the same colour, the same texture.
It rained on both sides of the chain.
We waited while our papers were checked,
our faces thoroughly inspected.
Then the chain was removed to let us through.
A man bent down and kissed his muddy homeland.
The same chain of mountains encompassed all of us.
CHOMAN HARDI >> The poem is set on the
boarder of Iran when her
and her family were
allowed to return.
>> The poem is therefore
a little
autobiographical.
>> Ideas of national
boarders is one
of Choman
Hardi's
intrests. form and structure By describing the border
as a 'thick iron chain',
it makes it sound as if
the land on the other side
is freedom. This is then emphasized when the poet tells us that her 'mother informed me: We are going home' And that the 'roads are much cleaner,The landscape is more beautiful, And people are much kinder.' Attitudes, themes and ideas >> The poem has no poetic form.
>> The length of the lines in each stanza varies.
>> Many of the lines are end-stopped {have some form of punctuation at the end} 'My sister put her leg across it.
"Look over here," she said to us,
"my right leg is in this country
and my left leg in the other."' This tells the reader that it
is only the countries that feel
that this border is real, and
stepping over it may be dangerous,
but to a naive child, it is just
an artificial divide. The poem dramatises a core experience of being a refugee: the growing distance between the adults' idea of home and the reality. >> Line 4&5 are broken by sound.
>> Other lines flow naturally.
>> This reflects the main theme of the poem – national borders are arbitrary, they do not mark out divisions that are in any other way 'real'. They are wherever a person or government has decided to put them. >> The story is organized around four different perspectives: the guards, the adult refugees and the two children (the five-year-old narrator and her sister). Stanza one – the border guard and the families.
Stanza two (lines 4 and 5) - the private reflection of the child.
Stanza three - the focus shifts to the sister.
Stanza four – the mother.
Stanza five – the families and mothers crying.
Stanza six – another reflection from the child, repeating the theme of stanza two.
'"I can inhale home,"
somebody said' The child is cold and distant not just because she is tired. The lands they are coming from and going to are meaningless to her. The older sister can play and the adults can dream, the child is already cut adrift: where is home for her? In this way, the final line ("The same chain of mountains encompassed all of us") is ambiguous. The repeated 'ai' sounds suggests weariness. So the observation could almost be about how we are all chained to ideas of 'home' that may not be 'real'. The inclusive feel of "all of us" is therefore not entirely positive. They may be home but they cannot leave themselves, or their problems, at the border. They can smell the familiarity of home, that they have been starved of for so long. They can feel the freedom over the border. The list of events in the final stanza then moves focus in each sentence until we have a final, concluding observation from the child in line 27 'The autumn soil
continued on the
other side with
the same colour,
the same texture.
It rained on both
sides of the chain.' This descriptive language, gives the reader an idea of the setting, and how the landscape on one side, continues over "both sides of the chain" 'Border' This could
symbolize
a border
between a
few things-
Young and old,
life and death,
innocence and experience Language In this poem there are very little adjectives and most are uninteresting and unexciting. This includes "last" and "different". However, this contrasts with the adjectives of the child's mother who uses more colorful adjectives such as "clean,"beautiful" and "kind". She remembers her sister’s naive playful attitude, the sternness of the border guards, the mothers being very emotional because they could return home, and one man’s display of affection for his homeland. Since she was so young, she could not understand why a ‘thick iron chain’ should make any difference between two countries that looked identical to her: the soil ‘continued on the other side’ , it was raining on both sides of the chain, and the same Kurdistan mountains surrounded them. Yet the adults were behaving as though something important was happening. However, the contrast with the boring wait at the check-point and the child's lack of excitement with the mothers interesting adjectives makes it seem like the mother's promises are not real. This is re-enforced when the poet describes that"Dozens of families waited in the rain". This anti-climatical device of a dream being replaced by reality creates bathos. Line 26 describes the "homeland" as "Muddy" which shows the contrast between the adult's romantic vision of the place, and the child's simple, clear view of it.
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