Both Choman Hardi’s At the Border and John Agard’s Flag share some resemblance and differences, however, they both carry the theme of ‘patriotism’ to some degree. John’s Flag revolves around the cloth symbolising a whole nation. Agard’s ‘Flag’ revolves around the cloth that symbolises a whole nation. John keeps referring to the endless power the flag possesses throughout the poem.. At the other side, Hardi’s At the Border is an autobiography of the authors, telling her experiences when she was just 5, migrating back to _______ . In this essay, I will discuss how these two poets portray the different communities regarding patriotism.
Both poems show the turbulent nature imposed by the national government. This is seen in At the Border by the lack of rhythm and varying line length; there isn’t a fixed structure. This emphasizes the pointlessness of the Iraqi border. Furthermore, the author has purposely concluded by saying ” The same chain of mountain encompassed all of us” to show that these boundaries are only made; nevertherless, it is still the same land. Moreover, the term ” chain of mountains emcompassed all of us” is a reference for a prison; the citizens are given security, but freedom and safety is taken away. Some readers may relate to her story due to their past experiences migrating throughout war zone territories. Readers will also feel sympathetic towards her family. In Flag, this is seen by the repetition of ” what’s that”, and rhetorical questions throughout the first four stanzas. This reiterates the author’s dissatfaction and demand for an explantion for the potentiality of the flag. The use of rhetorical questions represents the dangerous illusion created by the flag ‘ these ” imagined communities” made by a coloured fabric- with the power to demolish whole nations. Readers may have conflicting views towards John’s negative approach at their national symbols. Finally, both poems show the pathetic system their government have implanted, however, Flag takes a more cynical and darker approach towards it.
Both pieces of literature have the common theme of division and the concept of conveying nations using symbols. This is evidenced in At the Border, where the author says ”I was five years old’ it rained on both sides of the chain”. This implies that the author at the time (when she was just 5 years old) found these divisions meaningless. The use of the term ” both sides of chain” suggests the division between the two nations was generated by prior wars ‘ possibly a refrence for previous conflicts such as the Iranian-Iraqi war. Readers may start to comprehend the mentality of the author when she was a little child. This is also evident in Flag, where it says ” what’s that flutering in a breeze’ brings a nation to its knees”. The writer has purposely used the phrase ” brings a nation to its knees” to show the prominent influence it attains. Furthermore, the phrase is used to represent weakness; unable to attack back in a war. Similarly to At the Border, what appears to be a child, wonders what these symbols are supposed to mean – and again, in both of these poems, there is an individual who comprehends ‘ in this case, the person answering the child’s questions. Some readers may start wonderng if this is the case, and some may even start looking at these national emblems at a different, darker perspective.
The two poems use different language techniques for different effect. This is seen in At the Border by the varying stanza length throughout the poem. This suggests the author’s attempt to draw attention on the shorter stanzas. This is evident, as the shorter stanzas (2nd and 6th stanza) mostly use imagery. The use of the term ” thick iron chain” in the second stanza represents the artificial division imposed by humans; the chain described as ‘thick’ shows that nothing can go past it, it is impregnable. Moreover, the lack of rhythm in the poem indicates serious issues being explored. Modern readers will feel sympathy for Hardi’s unfortunate childhood experiences. In contrast, John’s Flag uses a tight, regular structure to refrence the army. The text keeps suddenly turns more personal in the 4th stanza, as the author changes from ” nation”, ”men” and ” coward” until it finally addreses it by ”you”. This engages the reader; makes them reflect on their interpretation towards their nationality and origin.