Perspectives on Refugees

Listening to this weekend’s Sunday Edition show on CBC radio, I heard the host, Michael Enright interview Brian Bilston, the “Bansky of poetry”.

One of Bilston’s best known poems in ‘Refugees’, in which he uses an unusual literary device, one in which the poem can either be read front to back, as is usual, or from back to front. It is a clever way to offer up, visualize, different perspectives, without changing the words.


Refugees (by Brian Bilston)

They have no need of our help

So do not tell me

These haggard faces could belong to you or me

Should life have dealt a different hand

We need to see them for who they really are

Chancers and scroungers

Layabouts and loungers

With bombs up their sleeves

Cut-throats and thieves

They are not

Welcome here

We should make them

Go back to where they came from

They cannot

Share our food

Share our homes

Share our countries

Instead let us

Build a wall to keep them out

It is not okay to say

These are people just like us

A place should only belong to those who are born there

Do not be so stupid to think that

The world can be looked at another way

(Now read from bottom to top)


It’s my country’s national election, tomorrow. Not surprisingly there have been quite a few speeches the last few weeks in which the issues-at-hand, i.e., people’s differences, conflicts, are frequently painted in black and white terms. Refugees is a colourful reminder that things aren’t always what they seem; a different perspective can change everything.

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