What Is the Critical Analysis of the Poem “No Men Are Foreign”?
James Kirkup’s “No Men are Foreign” centers around the idea of global equality for all of mankind. Kirkup’s worldview is one that has no place for prejudice or hatred based on racial or cultural boundaries, specifically in a post-colonial setting.
“No Men are Foreign” was written during the late 1940s when the world was undergoing a massive reconstruction. World War II had come to an end, and colonial powers were being ousted by dissidents who were tired of oppressive rule. Almost all these colonial power structures were rooted in a sense of racial superiority that had captured the minds of the colonial homeland citizens. Kirkup’s poem acts as a counter-balance to those notions, and he hopes to show that we should celebrate our differences rather than punish and enslave people for them.
In the first stanza, Kirkup points out similarities shared by men of all nations. He claims that every man is the same beneath his uniform, walks and is buried on the same land, and shares in the same harvest of crops. He furthers this concept in the second stanza where he notes that all men’s hands have the same capacity for work. He continues that all men sleep and wake in the same manner and have the same ability to love and realize love in each other. Kirkup wraps up his poem by saying that hatred towards others on the grounds of race is identical to hatred of oneself. To end the poem, he says that wars fought against each other serve no purpose other than to defile mankind’s shared resources, harm the earth and pollute the air that every man breathes.