At the Border, 1979 Analysis by Choman Hardi

This article is an analysis of the poem At the Border, 1979 by Choman Hardi.


The poem is a personal memory describing the crossing of the Iran/Iraq border as the poet and her family returned to their native Kurdistan.

This poem is a personal memory of the poet Choman Hardi and from 1979 which is why that's in the title when she was five years old. It describes the crossing of the Iranian border into Iraq. Choman Hardi is Kurdistan which is an area to the north of Iraq and they've moved to Iran but because of persecution they then had to move back to Iraq. They were there now Kurdistan were persecuted in Iraq as well under the government of Saddam Hussein and had to move again. So that there is a sense of you know that there is an idea towards the end which we'll look at that it's going to repeat history is going to repeat itself and that they are going to be persecuted again. And they will need to move on and they did may emigrated to and emigrated to England to the UK which is where she now lives.


The variation of stanza and line length reflects the themes of borders and how they are arbitrary. Borders do not show the real difference but are placed by people in governments.

The differing perspectives give a holistic description of the transition. Not only is it affecting the poet’s family but other families as well.


The simple language and use of first-person pronouns are indicative of the autobiographical context of the poem. The poet is describing the memory in the simple language of her five-year-old self.

The use of comparatives convey the emotions of the people towards their homeland.
Comparatives in themselves suggest difference and the families feel that they are going somewhere that is better because it is their home.


The border image that is central to the poem highlights the themes of difference that is explored. Despite the border guards and chain, the landscape and climate are identical.

The adults in the poem are excited by their return and convey a romanticized view of their home. This is juxtaposed with the waiting in the rain 'on both sides' and the continuity of the land reinforcing the arbitrary nature of borders. The borders and the differences they impose are manmade.


Being written in free verse reflects the random nature of borders. The poet has created her own borders in the way she divides lines and stanzas.

At the Border, 1979 Analysis

The end stops imply borders and the use of enjambement further highlights the continuity and similarity between the two countries.


Initially the poem conveys a sense of home through the idealized attitudes of the families, particularly the adults.

The idea that their homeland is perfect is scotched by the repetition of images showing continuity and similarity. The final line of the poem implies a sense of despair that life is not going to change for the better, the homeland’s natural borders are equally as threatening as those made by man and the situation of the families is going to remain the same.

Thanks for reading
Next Post »