The migrants which the poet depicts are those after WWII who were invited by the Australian Government to seek refuge in the provided migrant hostels. The poem has a sense of bitterness where the migrants have been taken out of their homeland and placed into an area isolated from the rest of the Australian society. The concept of belonging and not belonging are explored in this poem where the poem is able to relate his experience and put them into either one.
Stanza 1) The poet explores the concept of not belonging when he describes the people “coming and going” quickly leaving them confused and not belonging. This stanza also shows the transitory nature of a migrant leaving their homeland into a foreign land.
Stanza 2) This sections describes how the migrants were trying to belong in the new area they were in where they have been isolated from the outside world by relating to experiences, tradition, nationality, etc. The poet uses techniques such as similes to emphasise this.
Stanza 3) The constant change within the migrant hostel leaves them always in the dark and confused with what is going to happen in their lives
Stanza 4) The book gate is the barrier separating them from Australian society making them feel depressed and worried about their fate.
The poem is filled with imagery techniques such as the “arrivals of new comers in busloads”, “Comings and goings”, “barrier sealed them off from the highway”
The poet uses similes to create an emphasis on certain ideas of belonging in the text. “For over 2 years we lived like birds of passage…” “Nationalities sought each other out instinctively like a homing pigeon…” “The barrier rose and fell like a finger” – Authority (isolates from the society they were promised.
The irony in this poem is how the Australian Government at the time invited these migrants to see refuge in Australia and then they were put into these migrant hostels and isolated