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What particualar ideas does the poem "Smugglers" by Maria Lewitt communicate through...

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lilydarwin | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 7, 2013 at 8:40 AM via web

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What particualar ideas does the poem "Smugglers" by Maria Lewitt communicate through its representation of the Australian Experience?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted June 8, 2013 at 5:37 PM (Answer #1)

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In Maria Lewitt's poem "Smugglers," the author communicates the feelings associated with being an immigrant. No doubt, the author considers the new immigration experience as a dispassionate welcoming. As a new immigrant to America, the speaker communicates how efficient yet impersonal her passing into a new country is:

We were met
By brisk efficiency
Passport, Landing Permit.
Vaccination. Chest X-Ray
Name. Nationality.
And yes,-
Anything to declare?

Clearly, the speaker is comparing how her coming into America from a foreign country with going through a security checkpoint in an airport. There is no friendly interaction. It is a mechanical process. No one is welcoming the new immigrant. It is a cold and indifferent passage. The speaker continues to communicate her experience at the insensitive checkpoint: 

Nothing was confiscated.
We were free to go.
Our bodies bent
Under the heavy cargo
Of our past
We smuggled in
Values and slanted opinions

The speaker continues to express the idea of how her life has been shaped by her homeland--made her who she is as a person. She was taught values and opinions from her homeland, and now she is "smuggling" these values and opinions into America. Truly, she is going to miss her homeland, but she is taking a part of it with her into the new country that she has adopted as it has adopted her.

"Memories of distant people" is what she is bringing to her new country. She is missing people from her homeland. "Fading cities and lost sunsets" provide the reader with the idea that the speaker will forget some things from her homeland.

The last stanza expresses how people in America are indifferent to her background. She explains how she will be leaving a trail as she shares how her culture and background have shaped how she will interact with people in America. For the most part, the speaker insists that people in America do not really care about the immigration of foreigners: 

Nobody asked, nobody cared.
We were left alone.
And wherever we go
We leave a trail
Of unsuspected contraband.
Sometimes polluting, sometimes enriching
Our adopted Home

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