Invasion notes - St Cuthbert Mayne GCSE English

‘Invasion’ by Choman Hardi
Choman Hardi was born in Iraq Kurdistan, a region of Iraq where Kurdish people
live. Her family fled to Iran when Iraq invaded Kurdistan and persecuted its
people, killing thousands between 1987-89. Her family returned to Iraq after an
amnesty was declared, but arrived in the UK as a refugee in 1993.
Stanza 1
The narrator tells us that her community will be invaded at dawn.
It appears more threatening because she is describing what will
happen, giving us a sense that it is unavoidable and cannot be
Stanza 2
The narrator informs us that this is not a conventional war but a war
against civilians.
Stanza 3
We are told that young untrained men will fight for their freedom.
Stanza 4
Too many lives will be lost for nothing.
Stanza 5
The narrator states it is hopeless to fight against the invasion
and advises not to be involved in any confrontation.
Short opening sentence creates tension. The word ‘soon’ indicates that they will
have little time and that the invasion in unavoidable. The fact that the enemy is
unnamed and described as ‘they’ makes it seem even more threatening.
Enjambement in stanza 1 creates tension as the threat is anticipated. In the
second stanza, enjambement creates a sense of being overrun by the enemy.
This builds up tension and fear. Stanza 3 represents the never ending
consequences of the conflict on the Kurdish people.
Use of tenses – future tense shows inevitability of defeat and the horrific
consequences of the conflict: ‘We will lose this war, and blood/will cover our
roads’. This conveys a sense of hopelessness. Present tense – ‘keep your head
down’ uses the imperative to bark out orders perhaps anticipating the orders of
the oppressors. ‘These are our men who took their short-lived freedom…’ –
mixture of present and past showing what has happened and the dire results of
the conflict. The use of the tenses shows that this is about an impending
invasion which will impact on the present and become a part of history.
Repetition of ‘We will lose this war’ in future tense to We’ve lost this war in past
tense shows that he is predicting that the situation is hopeless.
Final stanza is only two lines with a definite message of defeat. The hyphen is
used to stress the hopelessness of trying to fight against the invaders.
In stanza one, the poet focuses on what the invaded will hear building up a sense
of threat and danger because the enemy cannot be seen. ‘Dawn and ‘mist’ are
images that generally suggest peace, calm and new beginning whereas in this
stanza they are threatening. The ‘dawn’ will bring the invaders and the ‘mist’
shrouds them in secrecy.
Pronouns are used to show the conflict between the invaders and invaded. In
the first two stanzas the invaded have only one pronoun ‘we’ used whereas the
invaders have three pronouns used. This suggests that they are the greater
force. Throughout stanzas 3 and 4 the pronoun ‘they’ is only used once whereas
more pronouns are used for the invaded. This conveys the idea that they will
fight for their freedom but inevitably a large numbers of lives will be lost against
an organised army.
Use of ‘we’ and ‘our’ shows that the narrator is directly involved in the situation
and draws the reader in by using second person. ‘First we will hear…’
Military words create a tone of despair and threat – ‘death bringing uniforms’,
‘march towards our homes/ their guns and tanks pointing forwards’. Analyse how
the effect of the individual words create a tone of despair and threat.
Striking images: Discuss how and why they are effective
Grim messages of destruction and death so reader can imagine the horror of the
invasion. Discuss the vocabulary used:
‘death-bringing uniforms’
‘rusty guns and boiling blood’
‘blood … will mix with our drinking water’
‘blood … creep into our dreams’ Discuss how the personification is used to
create fear.
Other poems in this collection describe events that have already happened. Do
you think that ‘Invasion’ is more or less effective because it looks to the future
rather than the past?
Essay title
Explain how Hardi presents vocabulary and verb tense to create an
ominous sense of the impending conflict.
Use evidence from the poem to support your answer.
Remember choose your quotations and textual references carefully so that you
can make comments that show insight and strong personal engagement with and
interpretation of the poem.