At the Border, 1979
Presentations text content in At the Border, 1979
At the Border, 1979Slide2
Summary of the poem
The poet describes how, at the age of five, she and her family crossed back into Iraq, the country where she had been born.
She remembers her sister’s naïve 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 if something important were happeningSlide3Slide4
‘It is your last check-in point in this country!’We grabbed a drink – soon everything would taste different.The land under our feet continueddivided by a thick iron chain.
Suggests control by officials
They expect everything will taste different in a diff country
Sense of urgency and anxiety
An artificial, manmade divisionSlide5
My sister put her leg across it.‘Look over here,’ she said to us,‘my right leg is in this countryAnd 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 cleanerthe landscape is more beautifuland people are much kinder.
Shows how insignificant the border is physically
Unthreatening – makes the guards seem silly for caring about something trivial
Caesura – makes the mother’s announcement seem grand and significant
suggests patriotic prejudiceSlide6
Dozens of families waited in the rain.‘I can inhale home,’ somebody said.Now our mothers were crying. I was five years oldstanding by the check-in pointcomparing both sides of the border
The adults reaction seems dramatic
Logical behaviour in comparison to the adultsSlide7
The autumn soil continued on the other side with the same colour, the same texture.It rained on both sides of the chainWe 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 homelandThe same chain of mountains encompassed all of us.
Natural qualities remain the same – divisions are imposed by people
Repetition used for emphasis
Simple statement of fact – unlike the adults, she’s unaffected by emotions
Passive construction keeps the controllers anonymous and powerful
His reaction seems exaggerated as the land is nothing specialSlide8
Form and Structure
The poem is written in the
showing it’s a personal memory. The stanzas of unequal lengths suggests
fragments of memories
occurring to the character as she places together memories of the scene. The use of caesura and enjambment reinforce this impression
The beginning of the poem uses a lit of
The tone becomes more
in stanzas 6 and 7 as the poet describes the lack of difference between the two sides of the border.Slide9
Child – Like Language:
The poem is written in a
style with no obvious description or imagery. The short sentences create a sense of a child’s memory and make the message – that borders are
Natural conversation makes the scene more
Impersonal descriptions emphasises how the families are in the power of the
who decide on national boundaries.Slide10Slide11Slide12