Thinking about the Poem
i. “Beneath all uniforms …” What uniforms do you think the poet is speaking about?
ii. How does the poet suggest that all people on earth are the same?
(i) The poet is speaking about the garments the soldiers wear at the time of war so that they can be identified by their own men. The figurative meaning of the term “uniforms” could be factors such as race, creed, nationality and religion which group people into categories.
(ii) According to the poet, each one of us breathes and lives in the same way. Eventually, we will all be buried under the same earth when we die. Providence gifts man air, water and warmth to survive; these gifts are shared by everyone who walks the earth.
Everyone prospers at the time of peace and suffers when there is war. Our hands that we use to work and the eyes that we use to behold the world are the same for all. The way each of us finds strength in love is the same for everyone.
Love and life, as understood by the poet, are universal concepts known to everyone. He thus concludes that all people on earth are the same.
2. In stanza 1, find five ways in which we all are alike. Pick out the words.
The words that show that we are all alike are:
- No men are strange
- No countries foreign
- A single body breathes
- The land our brothers walked upon
- Earth like this, in which we all shall lie
3. How many common features can you find in stanza 2? Pick out the words.
The common features in stanza 2 are;
- “…aware of sun, air and water…”
- “…fed by peaceful harvests…”
- “Their hands are ours…”
- “A labour not different…”
4. “…whenever we are told to hate our brothers …” When do you think this happens? Why? Who ‘tells’
When political and religious differences arise between two countries, the citizens of either nation are told to be mistrustful of each other.
Some political leaders try to provoke the people into hating the other country and its citizens through their speeches. Although soldiers have to fight to protect their own country, it is not essential for us to hate each other.
Even during the war, we should not forget our humanity. The poet says that by hating our brothers, we also hate ourselves. Through hatred, we dispossess, betray and condemn ourselves.