James Kirkup

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How does the poem "No Men are Foreign" by James Kirkup suggest all people are the same?

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In the poem "No Men Are Foreign," the poet, James Kirkup, emphasizes that people are alike, no matter their nationality. In stanza one, the poet tells us that "no men are strange, no countries foreign." All people are united by being a part of the human race. Also, countries are united by being a part of the same earth. In fact, everyone is a citizen of the world, no matter where one lives.

In stanza two, the theme of unity continues as Kirkup tells the reader that all humanity has the same eyes. That is, we all have eyes that wake and sleep. All humans have the same needs no matter where one lives. Again, a parallel is drawn with all lands having unity: "In every land is common life."

In stanza three, the poet's message shifts to remind us not to hate our brothers. As well, if we do go to war with each other, he warns us, "It is the human earth that we defile." The poet ends with the repetition of his message that "no men are foreign and no countries strange." Indeed, we are all a part of humanity and live in the same world and must honor one another.

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Kirkup accomplishes the idea of emphasizing the common links between all human beings in highlighting the humanity that all of us share.  This vision is one that stresses a certain "oneness" in the human condition. The idea of everyone being able to feel pain, experience life in the same way, endure the same biological or scientific realities are all examples that Kirkup uses to emphasize that we are all the same.  The realities of death are the same for all human beings and our lives are governed by the same scientific principles.  In this light, the poem suggests that when we shed the arbitrary distinctions of "foreign" or "native," conditions that are imposed by individuals, we see that we have more in common with one another that transcends the temporary and human made labels that have been applied to one another.

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