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In His Poetry, Peter Skrzynecki Communicates the Struggle Faced by Migrants

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Autor:   •  August 8, 2017  •  Essay  •  711 Words (3 Pages)  •  220 Views

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‘In his poetry, Peter Skrzynecki communicates the struggle faced by migrants’

Discuss this statement with reference to TWO poems.

A migrant is a person who has moved from one place to another, often over long distances, with the intentions of settling. Although it is not quite that simple, migrants face everyday struggles of which they don’t feel a sense of connection to this new place of which they now find themselves in. Peter Skrzynecki communicates these struggles faced by migrants through his poetry. This is evident in both the poems ‘Migrant Hostel’ and ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ and Skrzynecki mentions that a way of dealing with this sense of disconnection is to gather into groups of the same cultural background. However, gathering like this causes further separation from the Australian way of life and from younger generation who are trying to adapt to a new way of life. That new generation faces the migrant experiences associated with assimilation and moving towards a future where they do fit in.

In the poem ‘Migrant Hostel’ Skrzynecki expresses the struggles that his family faced in Parkes Migrant Hostel, he felt that the migrants were depersonalized. The alliteration of ‘no one kept count of them’ draws attention to the idea that they weren’t important. They were not individuals, only described by the collective noun “busloads”. The juxtaposition of the opposing ‘comings ang going’ and ‘arrivals’ and ‘departures’ shows the transient nature of life in the hostel. He feels that coming to this new country has deprived them of any individual character and they have lost a sense of personal identity.

As a result of depersonalization, migrants tried to overcome their struggles by gathering together with those who they understood. For the Skrzynecki’s these were other Polish migrants. In ‘Migrant Hostel’, Skrzynecki describes how the polish people sought one another out, using the simile “like a homing pigeon” as they instinctively gathered together. In “Felix Skrzynecki” he describes the gatherings and customs. They “shook hands too violently”, used “formal address” and “reminisced” about the past. These visual, auditory and tactile images bring the experience of the Polish gatherings to life. The reader sees clearly the “farms where paddocks flowered with corn and heat” and is somewhat shocked by the alliterative images of the pigs they were “skilled in slaughtering”. Skrzynecki believes that it was these customs that further alienated the migrants from the Australian culture.

Skrzynecki is part of the generation of migrants who arrived in Australia as children. He struggles with a sense of separation from his parents’ generation, just as they feel a separation and isolation from other Australians. They did not feel welcome in their new land. In ‘Migrant Hostel’ the simile of the gate ‘pointing like a finger’ ‘In reprimand or shame’ emphasizes this feeling of separation from other Australians. They felt they needed the “sanction’ of the gate to join the rest of Australian. This personalization of the object that divided them from the rest of the world underlines their sense of isolation and lack of welcome.


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