"Look We Have Coming to Dover!" and Other Poems

Journeying with Ambivalence: A Critical Appreciation of "Look We Have Coming to Dover!" by Daljit Nagra 11th Grade

Daljit Nagra’s poem Look We Have Coming to Dover! explores the difficulties faced by immigrants coming into Britain and considers the development of cultures as they mix and sometimes clash in a new country. Nagra, who was born in London but was the son of immigrant parents, frequently investigates the idea of ‘Britishness’ in his works and addresses the themes of immigration, multiculturalism and lack of identity in Look We Have Coming to Dover! Nagra’s inclusion of a reference to Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, a poem which expresses growing anxiety about a modern world, eloquently betrays the optimism and hope the immigrants feel about approaching somewhere so ‘various’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘new’, furthered by the use of an exclamation mark in the title, while locating his poem on the world-famous Dover coastline, a common point for illegal immigrants to enter the UK.

The poem opens with the word ‘stowed’, immediately introducing connotations of illegal cargo or luggage into the reader’s mind, contrasting the hopefulness implied in the title. ‘Stowed’, ‘huddled’, ‘hutched’ and ‘burdened’ suggest hardship and poverty, a stark comparison to the ‘cushy’ tourists. This dehumanises the speaker and his people, reinforced with...

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