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Refugee Blues PDF Free Download
Chapter 9: Refugee Blues
Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no
place for us.
Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there
In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports
can’t do that.
The consul banged the table and said:
‘If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead’;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.
Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year;
But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall
we go today?
Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
‘If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread’;
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking
of you and me.
Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: ‘they must die’;
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.
Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin;
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they
weren’t German Jews.
Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.
Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t
the human race.
Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them
Went down to the station to catch the express,
Asked for two tickets to Happiness;
But every coach was full, my dear, every coach was
Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and
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NCERT Solutions Class 11 English Chapter 9 Refugee Blues
1. The title, ‘Refugee Blues’ encapsulates the theme of the poem. Comment.
The African-American form of ballads called Blues arose by the end of the 19th century. They are basically sad and melancholic and are known as “the sad black slave’s songs”. In this poem, the poet explains the suffering of the Jews by the Nazis, the camps, the holocaust, their persecution, the rise of Nazism and Fuhrer.
This poem mainly narrates the story of a Jewish couple who emigrated to the United States of America after escaping from the Nazi Germany. These refugees sing the Blues explaining the pain and agony which they possess during the tough situation.
2. What is the poetic technique used by the poet to convey the plaintive theme of the poem?
The poem ‘Refugee Blues’ is a Blue Ballad which explains his character. In Britain and Ireland, Ballads were famous till the 18th century whereas the African-American form of ballads called Blues arose by the end of the 19th century. The poet who was a British who migrated to the USA, uses two basic techniques to carry out the beauty, which sings about the sufferings and sorrows of the Jewish Refugees.
In this poem, the meter which he used is similar to the ones he has used in ‘Calypso’ which was written in 1930. The Ballads were famous forms of verse that were narrative in the middle age while the Blues is an African-American music category that contains a strong pattern based on the use of a rhyme scheme which is simple and has repetitions. In every stanza, the first two lines rhyme with each other called a tercet while the third line provides a repetitive pattern using the phrase “my dear”, which is repeated in every third line providing consistency to the entire poem. It is very interesting to see that the first word in every stanza is a verb. This poem is a first person narrative in informal and colloquial language.
3. What do the references to the birds and animals made in the poem suggest?
This poem is melancholic which explains the terror hovering over a Jew couple who escape to America and their misery for no one sympathizes with them. The fear of losing their home and death constantly haunted them. They were unwelcome even in America as they were accused of taking away their bread. The poet compares the free animals and birds to the lives of the Jews. The freedom enjoyed by the cat, dog or fish is not given to the Jew couple.
They remember the Fuhrer orders in order to wash away the entire race of the Jews through the concentration camps or holocausts where they were pushed into the gas chambers. Here, it is noticed that even the animals have freedom and are respected in America while the Jews living in Germany do not have the right to live according to the regime of the Nazis. The narrator is sad that even a fish that was 10 feet away from the narrator can swim happily while the narrator is grieving at the misery of himself and his wife.
NCERT Class 11 English Textbook Chapter 9 With Answer PDF Free Download