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At the Border Poem Analysis

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At the Border, 1979

This poem presents two very different types of relationships: the relationship between a parent and child, and the relationship between an individual and the land.

The poem does not use a lot of 'poetic' language but much of the language has many connotations. For example, the word "border" could be a border between life and death, youth and age, innocence and experience. The date of the title fixes this poem in a particular time and place.
There are very few adjectives and these are mostly unexciting: "last" and "different". The more colourful adjectives:"clean", "beautiful" and "kind" come from the child's mother. However, the contrast with the boring wait at the check-point and the child's lack of excitement makes it seem like the mother's promises are not real. This sense is confirmed by the following line: "Dozens of families waited in the rain". This is an example of a bathos.
The poem follows no set poetic form. The length of the lines and stanza varies. There is a sense that where the lines break is arbitrary   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.
First of all, there is the relationship between an individual and the country they call 'home'. The mother's line: "we are going home" is presented in italics. Therefore, we can deduce that the idea of home, and the fact that they are returning to the mother's home, is of utmost importance to the parent.

Hardi then goes on to point out how trivial and arbitrary borders are. First of all, there is the image of the sister with her legs on either side of the chain. The childlike excitement: "Look over here" conveyed through the speech is indicative of how simplistically we can view national borders, once we remove the excess emotions and politics that surround them. The child speaker then points out this simplistic way...

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