James Harold Kirkup, FRSL (23 April 1918 – 10 May 2009) was an English poet, translator and travel writer. He wrote over 45 books, including autobiographies, novels and plays. He wrote under many pen-names including James Falconer, Aditya Jha, Jun Honda, Andrew James, Taeko Kawai, Felix Liston, Edward Raeburn, and Ivy B. Summerforest. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1962. No Men Are Foreign poem is here for you.
The title- ‘No men are Foreign’ means that the no men belong to another country. The poet wants to say that all men are same, all men are equal. He wants to promote the concept of universal brotherhood. In this poem, the poet wants to tell us that everyone in this world is same. All people, all men are same – they eat, live, die the same way. Everyone gets the bounties of nature like, sunshine, land etc in equal measure. We can also say that it is a peace poem.
The poem ‘No Men Are Foreign’ begins and ends with the same line- ‘Remember no men are strange, no countries foreign’ as the poet wants to emphasize on the fact that all the people living on this Earth are the same and that we have created distinctions by erecting borders and fences, different languages, etc. While we are alive, we walk on the same Earth and upon our death, we will lie in our graves in the same earth. He draws another similarity that we all enjoy good food during peace and starve during war and in winter time. We all have similar hands which we use to do a lot of hard work.
All of us have eyes which remain open when we are awake and close when we are asleep. He reminds the reader that whenever we hate someone, we cheat and hate ourselves. Also, when we pick up weapons against someone, we pollute the Earth and make it impure with the huge mounds of dead bodies strewn on it.
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 a 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.
CA Nitin Kaushik (Imaginary_Lands)
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