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Keep in mind that poetry is written to be heard. When you read the poem out loud, phrasing - including pauses - becomes easier to hear and understand. The short phrases formed by each line and, even more so, the punctuation marks emphasize the breaks in the rhythm of the language - the confusion and concern and apprehension being conveyed by the speaker.
Dharker's purpose in writing "The Right Word" was to illustrate how he was able to present
just one image, but it's an image that is interpreted in different ways depending on the preconceptions that fit into each verse.
The unidentified person seen outside the door is a feared terrorist, a protected freedom fighter, a patiently waiting hostile militant, an unyielding and watchful guerrilla warrior, a defiant martyr, and a lost but steady and hardened young boy who could be the son of anyone reading the poem.
He could be perceived as being any of those persons, depending on the biases and beliefs of the beholder behind the door. In the end, he is a respectful and obediant individual who obeys social custom and removes his shoes before coming in the house - hardly a threat of any kind.
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