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No Men are Foreign

No Men Are Foreign


Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign

Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes

Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon

Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie.

They, too, aware of sun and air and water,

Are fed by peaceful harvests, by war’s long winter starv’d.

Their hands are ours, and in their lines we read

A labour not different from our own.

Remember they have eyes like ours that wake

Or sleep, and strength that can be won

By love. In every land is common life

That all can recognise and understand.

Let us remember, whenever we are told

To hate our brothers, it is ourselves

That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn.

Remember, we who take arms against each other

It is the human earth that we defile.

Our hells of fire and dust outrage the innocence

Of air that is everywhere our own,

Remember, no men are foreign, and no countries strange.


Read on the poem to know why we mustn’t hate our brethren because they belong to a different country or speak a different language. The poet reminds us of that how all people are similar and part of the brotherhood of men. By the end of the poem we get to know how it is unnatural to fight against ourselves.


About the author

James Falconer Kirkup(1918-2009) born James Harold Kirkup, was an English poet, translator and travel writer. He wrote over 30 books, including autobiographies, novels and plays. Kirkup wrote his first book of poetry, The Drowned Sailor at the Downs, which was published in 1947. His home town of South Shields now holds a growing collection of his works in the Central Library, and artefacts from his time in Japan are housed in the nearby Museum. His last volume of poetry was published during the summer of 2008 by Red Squirrel Press, and was launched at a special event at Central Library in South Shields.


Glossary

Condemn - express complete disapproval

Labour - hardwork

Betray - disloyal

Defile - damage the purity or appearance

Outrage - extremely strong reaction of anger, shock


Based on the understanding of the poem, read the following lines and answer the questions given below.


1. Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes

Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon

Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie.


a) What is found beneath all uniforms?

Ans: Beneath all uniforms, human beings are only there who breathes like everybody.


b) What is same for every one of us?

Ans: The earth where we live and die is the same for everyone.


c) Where are we all going to lie finally?

Ans: The poet says that at the end of our respective lives, we all shall lie buried in the same earth.


2. They, too, aware of sun and air and water,

Are fed by peaceful harvests, by war’s long winter starv’d.


a) What is common for all of us?

Ans: Sun, air and water is common for all of us.


b) How are we fed?

Ans: We are fed by harvests taken in the peaceful times.


c) Mention the season referred here?

Ans: The season refereed here is the winter.


3. Their hands are ours, and in their lines we read

A labour not different from our own.


a) Who does ‘their’ refer to?

Ans: Their refers to the men from different countries.


b) What does the poet mean by ‘lines we read’?

Ans: The poet means that, the other country men’s hands also has lines like our hands and these lines shows their labour or hard work which is similar to ours.


c) What does not differ?

Ans: The labour or hard work does not differ.


4. Let us remember, whenever we are told

To hate our brothers, it is ourselves

That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn.


a) Who tells us to hate our brothers?

Ans: The persons who starts the wars between the countries or the governments starting the wars tells us to hate our brothers.


b) What happens when we hate our brothers?

Ans: If we hate our brothers from other countries, then it is like hating ourselves.


c) What do we do to ourselves?

Ans: We dispose, betray, and condemn ourselves.


5. Our hells of fire and dust outrage the innocence

Of air that is everywhere our own,

Remember, no men are foreign, and no countries strange.


a) What outrages the innocence?

Ans: War, which is a hell of fire and dust outrages the innocence.


b) Who are not foreign?

Ans: Every human being who breath the air which is around everywhere are not foreign.


c) What is not strange?

Ans: Any country in this world is not strange.


Transferred Epithet

A transferred epithet is a figure of speech where an adjective or epithet describing a noun is transferred from the noun it is meant to describe to another noun in the sentence. In the lines, They, too, aware of sun and air and water, Are fed by peaceful harvests, by war's long winter starv'd. "starv'd" is an epithet which is placed beside the noun 'winter'. However, it does not describe the 'winter' as being starved, but describes the pronoun 'they'. Historically many wars were fought during the winter, while the harvest season was essentially peaceful. 'They' refers to the soldiers in uniform who had to starve during winter while fighting for their land.

e.g., Winter starv’d – transferred epithet


Metaphor

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. Recorded from the late 15th century, the word comes via French and Latin from Greek metaphora, from metapherein ‘to transfer’.

e.g., Hells of fire – metaphor


Repetition

Poets often repeat single words or phrases, lines, and sometimes, even whole stanzas at intervals to create a musical effect; to emphasize a point; to draw the readers’ attention or to lend unity to a piece. In “No Men are Foreign” James Kirkup repeats the word ‘Remember’ five times in the poem to emphasize the serious message the poem has to convey. Similarly, the last line of the last stanza (“Remember, no men are foreign, and no countries strange”) though reversed, is the same as the first line of the first stanza (“Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign”). This repetition emphasizes the core message of the oneness of mankind.


Based on your understanding of the poem complete the following by choosing the appropriate words/phrases given in brackets:

This poem is about the …………… of all men. The subject of the poem is the ………….. race, despite of the difference in colour , caste, creed , religion , country etc. All human beings are same. We walk on the …………… and we will be buried under it. Each and everyone of us are related to the other. We all are born same and die in the same way. We may wear different uniforms like’ ………………,’ during wars the opposing side will also have the same ……………… like ours. We as human do they same labour with ………….and look at the world with the…………. Waging war against others as they belong to a different country is like attacking our own selves. It is the …………….we impair. We all share the same……………. We are similar to each other. So the poet concludes that we shouldn’t have wars as it is ……………to fight against us.


(unity of human, dreams and aspirations, same land, our hands, unnatural, breathing body, same eyes, brotherhood, language, human earth)


Answer:


This poem is about the brotherhood of all men. The subject of the poem is the unity of human race, despite of the difference in colour, caste, creed, religion, country etc. All human beings are same. We walk on the same land and we will be buried under it. Each and everyone of us are related to the other. We all are born same and die in the same way. We may wear different uniforms like’ language’ during wars the opposing side will also have the same breathing bodylike ours. We as human do they same labour with our hands and look at the world with the same eyes. Waging war against others as they belong to a different country is like attacking our own selves. It is the dreams and aspirations we impair. We all share the same human earth. We are similar to each other. So the poet concludes that we shouldn’t have wars as it is unnatural to fight against us.

 

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