What is the summary of the poem "No Men are Foreign" by James Kirkup?

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droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem by James Kirkup begins and ends with the same line, with the repetition serving to emphasize the fact that this is the core message of the poem:

Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign.

The subject of this poem is the unity of the human race, despite differences in race, geography or language. All people are "brothers," in that we all walk on the same land and will be buried under it. This comment highlights the poet's point that we are all, ultimately, related, and are all born the same and will die in the same way. Use of language like "uniforms" suggests that even in times of war, the opposing sides would do well to remember that under the uniforms, "a single body breathes."

The poem covers various points of similarity between people from all countries: people have "hands" like ours, they "labour" as we do, and they have "eyes like ours that wake" to see a similar world. Hating other people because they are different, or raising arms against other people, is effectively a condemnation of ourselves: "it is the human earth that we defile."

This poem could be understood as a protest against such issues as racial hatred and warfare, which threaten the peace and safety of human beings in similar ways.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the title of the poem implies, this is a poem about the brotherhood of all men.  The author is trying to argue that all people are essentially the same.  He uses the word "foreign" to mean "different" and argues that we should not see other people as foreign or different just because they come from some other country.

The author argues that all people share the same sorts of dreams and aspirations and problems.  He says that this is why they are all similar to each other.  He concludes by arguing that this is why there should be no war.  He says that war is unnatural because it is like fighting against ourselves.