"Look We Have Coming to Dover!" is the title poem from Daljit Nagra's prize-winning 2007 collection. A dramatic monologue spoken by a new immigrant to England, it portrays a group of immigrants' first years in the country—from their dangerous arrival, to their under-the-table jobs, to their wistful hopes for the future. The speaker highlights the struggles of immigrant life: the lack of official documentation, the difficulty of finding work and housing, and the threat of violence and deportation. But the poem's sparky, inventive language suggests that immigration is a revitalizing force, offering immigrants' adoptive countries fresh energy and fresh perspectives.
Stowed in the ...
... into the tide,
with brunt ...
... the ministered waves.
Seagull and shoal ...
... a Bedford van.
Seasons or years ...
... pylon and pylon.
Swarms of us, ...
... for the clear.
Imagine my love ...
... crash clothes, free,
we raise our ...
... chalk of Britannia!
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
The Poem Out Loud — Listen to Daljit Nagra reading the poem aloud.
An Interview with the Poet — Hear an interview in which Nagra talks about his beginnings in poetry.
Dover's History — Learn more about the White Cliffs of Dover—and the ways that immigration (and invasion) have shaped British culture.
More Poems by Nagra — Read more of Nagra's poetry on his own website.
Immigration and Britain — Learn more about immigration in British history.
"So various, so beautiful, so new…"
— Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach"
1Stowed in the sea to invade
2the lash alfresco of a diesel-breeze
3ratcheting speed into the tide, with brunt
4gobfuls of surf phlegmed by cushy come-and-go
5tourists prow’d on the cruisers, lording the ministered waves.
6Seagull and shoal life
7Vexin their blarnies upon our huddled
8camouflage past the vast crumble of scummed
9cliffs, scramming on mulch as thunder unbladders
10yobbish rain and wind on our escape, hutched in a Bedford van.
11Seasons or years we reap
12inland, unclocked by the national eye
13or stab in the back, teemed for breathing
14sweeps of grass through the whistling asthma of parks,
15burdened, ennobled, poling sparks across pylon and pylon.
16Swarms of us, grafting in
17the black within shot of the moon’s
18spotlight, banking on the miracle of sun —
19span its rainbow, passport us to life. Only then
20can it be human to hoick ourselves, bare-faced for the clear.
21Imagine my love and I,
22our sundry others, Blair’d in the cash
23of our beeswax’d cars, our crash clothes, free,
24we raise our charged glasses over unparasol’d tables
25East, babbling our lingoes, flecked by the chalk of Britannia!