Peter Skrzynecki explores various aspects of belonging and not belonging in his poems ancestors, Feliks, and 10 Mary Street

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Peter Skrzynecki explores various aspects of belonging and not belonging in his poems “ancestors”, “Feliks”, and “10 Mary Street”. Using language techniques such as enjambment, simile, metaphor and alliteration Peter Skrzynecki broadens the reader’s concept of belonging through the medium of poetry.

Peter Skrzynecki uses the theme of not belonging in his poems to contrast, and thereby better convey, his ideas on belonging. The poem “Feliks” explores the relationship between Peter and his father and represents Peter’s ideas about belonging by contrasting his immigrant father’s sense of belonging with his own sense of belonging as a youth torn between two culturally opposing worlds while at the same time exploring the alienation Peter feels from his fathers world. The poem “ancestors” further compounds Peter’s feelings of alienation from his culture, heritage and land of birth while the poem “10 Mary Street” investigates the alienation immigrants can feel in their new homeland and the resentment they feel towards the idea of assimilation.

“Feliks” is written about the poet’s father. The words opening line “My gentle father” shows that Peter Skrzynecki loves and respects his father and set the tone for the poem; however a feeling of isolation and alienation develops throughout the poem until we are left with the feeling that Peter does not belong in his father’s world. The first stanza describes Peter’s father and the place where he belongs, his garden. The line “loved his garden like an only child” excludes Peter from this world and creates the feeling of Peter being alienated from his father, as he can never enter into this world of his father’s creation or understand it. Peter’s fathers love for the garden also seems at times to overshadow his love for Peter, his real “only child”. This idea is further explored in the poem “10 Mary Street” where Peter again describes the garden as a haven, a world that his parents create and love “like adopted children” and tend to with attentive care. However, in this poem Peter describes coming home and “ravaging” the garden “like a hungry bird”; these words with their negative connotations serve to further alienate Peter from the world of his parents. The garden is used to symbolise his parent’s world, the place where they belong, Peter’s negative and at times resentful voice serve to show how Peter is alienated from his parent’s world, and how he can never belong to them or their world in the total sense of the word. This is summed up in the sixth stanza of “Feliks” where Peter describes his father sitting in his garden watching “stars and Street lights come on, happy as I have never been”.  

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Peter also feels as though he does not belong within his culture, this idea is explored in “Feliks”, “10 Mary Street” and “Ancestors”. The use of alliteration in the first stanza of “ancestors” in the line “standing shoulder to shoulder” creates the feeling of belonging between the enigmatic and ancient “bearded, faceless men” and further serves to isolate the persona (or Peter) from them. This symbolises Peter’s isolation and feeling of alienation from his culture and ancestry. This feeling is further compounded throughout the poem and the line “how long is their wait to be?” symbolises Peter’s feelings of ...

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