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A GCSE Guide to AQA Unit 2: Poetry Across Time | At the Border

Shane Richardson | Sunday January 13, 2013


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Guide Navigation

1. Introduction
2. Out of the Blue
3. Flag
4. Mametz Wood
5. The Yellow Palm
6. The Right Word
7. At the Border
8. Poppies
9. Exam Technique
10. Sample Exam Questions

AQA Anthology Poems

“Moon on the Tides: Conflict Cluster”

About the Author

Choman Hardi is an Iraqi-Kurd who fled her native country and went into exile in Iran with her parents. Some years later she returned to Iraq, only to have to flea once more in the 1980s during Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign. Eventually, Hardi found her home in Britain and now works as a poet, translator and works actively to support other exiled writers.

Checking your Understanding

  1. How does the poet create a sense of the person being between two places?
  2. What does the behaviour of the different generations suggest to you?
  3. What does the phrase ‘I can inhale home’ imply to you?
  4. What is the symbolism of the chain throughout the poem?

Commenting on Language

  1. How does Hardi use language to create the abrupt tone of the border guards?
  2. Why do you think that the poet has used an irregular stanza structure in the poem?
  3. How does the poet symbolise the sense of difference between the two sides of the border?
  4. Explore the final line – what does it mean and why does Hardi end with it?

Extending your Understanding

What is Hardi’s ‘big idea’?

Essentially the poem is concerned with the complicated nature of what we understand to be ‘home’. That is, how we define home physically but also symbolically. In the poem it is very clear, on the one hand, that the speaker identifies her home as Iraq where ‘everything would taste different. However, it is also clear that there is a sense in which home is more complex than a physical location: the last line of the poem refers to the mountains that ‘encompassed all of us’ either Iranian or Iraqi, indeed mankind more generally.

This, in turn, brings into question the nature of how, over the...

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