Shire Home is a poem composed by Warsan Shire about the refugee experience in foreign places or countries seeking refuge after fleeing their homes. The poem concentrates on the refugee “You” but highlights the fate threads and stories of other refugees. The entire Home poem is political.
The author argues that most of the refugees are settling in developed countries like America and Europe as a strategy to take advantage of their resources. The poem explains that refugees are not fleeing their homes willingly but due to a lack of other options based on the challenges they are experiencing (Shire, 1998). Shire explained that it is a violation of human rights when the refugees are sent back home or forbidden from seeking refuge in the neighboring countries.
At the beginning of the poem, a metaphor is used in the form of an argument that no individual leaves his/her home unless home is the mouth of a shark. Shire uses “You” to describe one or a group of refugees fleeing their homes due to various narratives. In some instances, “you” refers to the reader, singular person, and different stories about migrants going through varied traumas forcing them to flee.
In the first section of the poem, it describes a horrific situation where the people in the whole cities migrated overnight while the youths were being paid to participate in the violence and war. The speaker in the poem remembers kissing a boy who was holding a gun.
The situation explores a moment where the innocence is lost among the people who were not expecting violence an eviction. In the third stanza, the narrator explains more about where she was going. The memories running through her head were traumatizing, as she described death threats, held knifepoint, feeling destruction and fire in the entire city where they used to call home before violence (Shire, 1998).
The next step for the narrator was to destroy all the papers and materials like passports and identity cards that would link her to the home city. During such point, the refugee needed to acquire falls papers, which would allow them to enter into the neighboring countries seek refuge. Such papers were required in the immigration offices as per the procedures for them to acquire asylum. The refugees were kept in camp waiting for the processing of asylum, which stalled for a long period.
During this period of waiting, the refugees went through hell as the children would drown while they were struggling to cross to Europe, while women and young girls were exposed to gender-based violence and sexual abuse.
Moria camp was meant to hold 2000 refugees, but at the time it was holding more than 8000 people. Women were raped, but they saw it better as compared to threats of gang-raping they were experiencing at home.
Every refugee had a different story about what they went through, which was difficult for Shire to highlight the experience of every refugee. It reached a point that Shire decided to refer to all the refugees as “You” as a comforting strategy in a human way. It was difficult for Shire to identify the refugee with their country, leaders, or any other identification apart from you, as it would remind them of the horrific situations they went through at home.
Shire appeals to the reader to identify themselves with the refugee to experience what they go through during the violence at home and in refugee camps. The image and trauma communicated by Shire about the refugees’ life was a demand politely to enable the reader to imagine being in the same situation as the refugees (Shire, 1998).
The home country was confusing, scattering, and breaking hopes of the refugees based on what they went through at home and currently in the camps.
The entire poem is like listing and reading the atrocities people went through in the home and camps. The cases of racism, insults, and other frustrations were better than what the refugees were going through in their home city. Shire ended the poem by arguing for empathy and humanity among the refuges like other people in society.
On the other hand, “The Immigrant” film by Chaplin (1917) is an American is a silent comedy short film. In his character, “Tramp,” Chaplin (1917) comically describes the plight of immigrants as they try to journey and settle in the United States. The film creatively demonstrates the troubles, frustrations, and hostility these new Americans face, the peril of their travel, and hardships they experience as they integrate into a new culture. Interestingly, however, the director blends the aforementioned real issues with physical comedy.
“The Immigrant” film addresses the same issues as the “Home” poem, that is, the plight of migrants and hardship they go through as they seek new lives in the seemingly lands of freedom and opportunities.
The director highlights the shock and frustrations many have to endure upon arrival to the foreign countries they run to shelter. Notwithstanding the dangerous journeys and risky attempts to cross borders through the sea, Chaplin (1917), through the amusing character “Tramp” describes the traumatic experiences and social rejection in the new land.
Notably, the film uses comics, gags, and humor to express otherwise miserable experiences. The director packages serious concepts in a comedy format to highlight irony and satire. For example, there is an ironic bearing when the immigrants are herded and roped-off by the officer like cattle near the Statute of Liberty. Similarly, in his delivery, Chaplin employs a delicate ballet of viewers’ expectations to intrigue a motion picture audience.
Although in quite different styles, one in humor and the other expressed with a somber tone, both “The Immigrant” film and “Home” poem address the predicaments and issues surrounding the plight of refugees and migrants.
Through the use of irony, gags, and humor, “The Immigrant” brings out his concepts in comedy form. In contrast, “Home” uses dark humor, metaphors, and dull symbolism to highlight challenges refugees and migrants face in search of a better, safer life.
Shire, W. (1998). Home.[Poem]. Long Journeys. African Migrants on the Road.
Chaplin, C. (1917). The Immigrant [Film]. Hollywood: Mutual Film Corporation.
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