- “Beneath all uniforms …” What uniforms do you think the poet is speaking about?
- How does the poet suggest that all people on earth are the same?
- The poet is probably speaking about the uniforms that the soldiers wear at the time of war. The word “uniform” here could also mean the traditional dresses of a country.
- Throughout the poem, the poet pin points the underlying similarity between all human beings. He says that though people may wear different uniforms, they all are same. Everyone walks upon the same earth, breathes in air, drinks water and is aware of the presence of the sun. Everybody feeds on the harvest produced and gets starved during an extended war. Our hands, the work we do, our eyes and even the fact that our strength can be won by love is similar. Moreover, we all understand and recognize “life”, which is common to all lands. Hence, the poet suggests that nobody is foreign and no country is strange.
Question: In stanza 1, find five ways in which we all are alike. Pick out the words.
Answer: Words which suggest the five ways in which the poet draws similarity between all human beings are as follows:
“no men are strange”; “uniforms”; “single body breathes”; “land our brothers walk upon”; and “earth like this, in which we all shall lie”.
Question: How many common features can you find in stanza 2? Pick out the words.
Answer: There are five common features in stanza 2. These features are the sun, the air, the water, peaceful harvest, hands and the labour.
Question: “… whenever we are told to hate our brothers …” When do you think this happens? Why? Who ‘tells’ us? Should we do as we are told at such times? What does the poet say?
Answer: Usually, we are told to hate our brothers (i.e. people belonging to other countries) at the time of war. Political leaders and powerful people, who work for their personal gains, ask us to do so. However, we should not act as a puppet in their hands and do as they say. We should understand that war is futile and analyse the situation before jumping to conclusions. The poet asks us to remember that by hating our brothers, we are dispossessing, betraying and condemning ourselves. When we take arms against each other, we pollute the human earth and violate the purity of the atmosphere.
Question: What message does the poet want to convey?
Answer: The poet wants to say that there should be no discrimination between people on the basis of their appearance, religion or region. It is inhuman to tease one because of one’s different background. The poet wants that the people should discourage this malpractice and love their fellow human beings from the bottom of their heart.
Question – No Men Are Foreign: How does the poet prove that there are no foreign countries?
Answer: The poet proves it with the help of nature. Everyone shares the same sun, earth and air. They have the same body structure and its functioning elements. So there should be no biased attitude towards anyone.
Question: What does the poet ask us to remember in the last stanza?
Answer: The poet warns the ordinary and innocent people whose emotions and sentiments are stirred by some selfish people. Their immoral acts and poisonous views don’t deserve attention.
Question: How are we responsible for war?
Answer: Everyone is responsible for war. If we start hating our brethren, we will become the cause of tension. And the tension is converted into war one day. So nobody should hate and despise anyone. Our biased and impolite behaviour towards the fellow human beings becomes the cause of unnecessary wars.
Question: How do all men living on the earth share the same fate?
Answer: All men living on this earth live and die the same way. They share the same fate. Beneath different kinds of colourful dresses and faces, all have the heart of man. While they live, they walk on the same earth. After their death, they will be buried under the same earth. The apparent differences of lands and race are only superficial and not real.
Question: Nature doesn’t differentiate between men of different lands and races. Do you agree with the given statement?
Answer: Nature never differentiate between men and men. It transcends the differences based on geography, race or religion. The sun gives its heat and energy to all. Similarly, all of them need air and water to survive. Dining peace they prosper and have plenty of food to eat. However, long wars starve them. They labour hard to survive with the same kinds of limbs and hands.
Question: How can we recognize and understand ‘common life’ in every land?
Answer: All human beings are woven in the wreath of humanity. If our vision is not clouded by narrow ideas, we can recognize and understand ‘common life’ in every land. All men are born and brought up in the same way. They love, hate and sleep in the same way. Peace and love bind them together.
Question: Hating our brother means hating ourselves and taking arms against them means fighting with ourselves. Is it true?
Answer: Wars are imposed on lands and people. The poison of hate divide men and nations. They go to wars, kill and destroy one another. Hating our brothers means hating ourselves. Similarly, raising arms against the people of one land means raising arms against humanity.
Question: How do we defile and outrage the ‘human earth’ that is ours?
Answer: Hate breeds hatred. Narrow ideas pollute and defile this earth which belongs to all mankind. ‘Hells of fire and dust’ are our own creations. They pollute and outrage the ‘innocence of air that is our own’. We should remember that the mother earth belongs to all lands and all people.
Question: How are we alike? Explain in context with the poem.
Answer: We all are alike. We have same body structure. All of us need air to breathe, sun to get sunlight and warmth and water for many purposes. Our daily routine is also almost the same. We get up in the morning take a bathe, have breakfast and go to work or school. All of us long for love. We all sleep at night and wake up in the morning.
When our needs and feelings are the same, then we should treat all people equally. We should not look down upon anybody on the basis of his/her colour, caste, region or gender. We should treat everyone as our brother and sister.
Unfortunately, some self-centered people fight with others and try to hurt them. They think that others have harmed them. We should not think that other people are ‘others’. They are also our brothers. If they make any mistake, we should forgive them or compromise with them.
Question: ‘The land our brothers walk upon. Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie!’ What does the poet mean to say above lines? Explain.
Answer – No Men Are Foreign: The poet means to say in these lines that it is the same land on which we walk and after our death would be buried in the same earth. Through these lines the poet tell us that we do all our activities on the same land. We get food from this land. We make our houses on this land and we get many other things from the same land, then why do we say to some people to be ‘others’. No one is other. We live in the same house or universe as a family. Then why do we create discrimination against some people. Why do we fight with our brothers? It is all because of our greed to get more wealth and power. We want to have more wealth and power than others. In pursuit to fulfill this desire, we fight with others and hurt them.
The poet also tells us that one day all of us have to die. Nothing would remain ours. We will have to leave all things on the same earth. At last, we all will be buried in the same earth.
Question: Beneath apparent differences of lands, races and uniforms there lies the same body—the human body. Comment?
Answer: No doubt, geography, religious, cultures and races divide lands and people. These division lead to conflicts and wars. Such man-made differences pollute the minds of people. Wars and conflicts defile the earth which is ours. Beneath all these divisions and differences, we should understand and recognize ‘common life’ which is same in every land. Hating the people of other lands means hating humanity and mankind. Let us weave ourselves in the common wreath of humanity. Let us not defile and destroy this earth which is ours. Let us understand once for all that all divisions of men are only superficial. The same soul runs through all men. The same heart throbs in all—the heart of man.
Question – No Men Are Foreign: How does the poem ‘No Men are Foreign’ gives the message of unity and commonality of all mankind? Give a reasoned answer.
Answer – No Men Are Foreign: James Kirkup gives a definite message of hope to mankind. Inspite of apparent divisions and differences, all are united together by the common bond of humanity and mankind. Vested interests gain by dividing lands and people. They conspire to create hatred and divisions among people. We should frustrate their evil designs. We should understand and try to recognize that the same soul runs through all the people. Let us work for the unity and prosperity of all lands and all people.
Let us not pollute and defile the earth which is ours. Hatred and narrow ideas pollute the minds of the people. Conflicts and wars bring destruction and violence. We should remember that raising our arms against anyone means fighting against ourselves. The poet reminds us to remember, recognize and strengthen the common bond that unites mankind and humanity.
Question: All great persons tell us to live cordially as brothers. But we people tend to fight over trivial issues. Why don’t we live with others people harmoniously? What makes us fight and hurt other?
Answer – No Men Are Foreign: It is true that many people have been telling us to live harmoniously since long. We never follow their message. We also know it that our greed to get more wealth and power cannot give us peaceful life. But some deep-rooted evils in our society make us draw a distinction between people. We know that all customs and conventions have been made by people. God has made all people equal. But we make differences between people for our selfish motives. We start to hate even our family members due to our ego to be more powerful. By doing so, we at last harm ourselves. We became the objects of hatredness for society. In society, people dislike selfish people.
So before going to hurt other’s feeling, first of all we should think whether doing such act with others are justified by other people or society. We should learn to live with others as brothers. We should learn to tolerate, forgive and compromise. Only in this way, our life would be happy and peaceful.