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Peter Skrzynecki’s Poetry in Association with Belonging Essay Sample

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Peter Skrzynecki’s Poetry in Association with Belonging Essay Sample

Exploring the concept and significance of belonging throughout the poetry of Peter Skrzynecki, specifically that of his poems “Feliks Skrzynecki” and “Post card” and through my related text “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beetles, my own understanding of both myself and my world has been magnified well beyond the simplistic understanding with which I first started.

Skrzynecki’s poem “Feliks Skrzynecki” explores the concept of belonging by highlighting how a person can choose to belong to a community or live beside it without actually becoming a part of it. The opposite is also shown in this poem in the way it highlights how a community can choose to not belong to a person and therefore exclude the person from the community itself. Belonging, in every case, is a choice. One of two parties will always consciously or unconsciously choose whether or not it/he/she belongs or does not belong. Within this poem Skrzynecki (Peter Skrzynecki) chooses to belong to Australia rather than to belong to that of his Polish heritage which is the choice of his father. “Watched me pegging my tents further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall” This metaphor explains how Feliks, over the course of Skrzynecki’s life, watches him as he grows up as an Australian boy, moving further and further away from the Polish heritage that Skrzynecki has never known, but with which Feliks is so tightly associated.

Feliks, like is son, finds that he can only truly belong to either Poland or Australia, but unlike his son, Feliks finds that it is Poland where he finds the acceptance and familiarity that allows him to belong. The garden “loved like an only child”. This a symbol used to represent Poland, Feliks home. The infinite love and care with which he tends to his garden (Poland) underlines his choice not to belong Australia, but rather, find solace in his own world where the memories and feelings of belonging in Poland can prosper and exist. Whilst Feliks did choose not to belong to Australia, Australia also chose not to belong to Feliks. “A crew-cut, grey-haired department clerk, who asked me in dancing bear grunts, did your father ever attempt to learn English?” The aggression and contempt with which the department clerk speaks about Feliks shows how the Australian society disbarred Feliks from their community, giving him no chance to belong to it because of the cultural differences that accompany Feliks’ Polish background. This poem shows how the worlds of two different people, even two people who belong together, can be very far apart. The poem exemplifies how the world you live in becomes a mould that shapes you as a person. We see this as Peter Skrzynecki grows up, the Australian culture moulds him into a different person than that of Feliks who grew up in Poland.

“Post Card” provides the reader with insight into the idea of wanting to belong. Skrzynecki, in this poem, shows us how wanting to belong can be one of the most severe types of not belonging. “I can give you the recognition of eyesight and praise, what more do you want besides the gift of despair?” Skrzynecki’s frustration is amplified by the rhetorical question at the end of the quote “what more do you want”. He is frustrated because he feels as though he should belong to Poland but he does not, he has been told his whole life that he is Polish and grown up hearing stories of his Polish family, listening to the Polish language, but he knows nothing personal of Poland, the experiences and memories are not his, and so he feels no true sense of belonging towards it, even though he is told that he should. This insinuates a loss of identity as he feels he should be someone who he is not. The use of direct speech ‘A lone tree whispers “We will meet before you die”’ personifies Poland and suggests that Poland is calling Skrzynecki home to find his identity. The technique of “whispering” also shows us Skrzynecki’s desire to visit Poland, lingering in the back of his mind. This poem highlights the way in which people’s sense of self and identity is deeply tied in with their world, the world in which they live and belong, but also the worlds in which they’ve grown up with, even if those worlds are not their own.

“Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles shows us a story of two people who have nowhere to belong. It is an example of the way people today are becoming more and more misplaced within society and how belonging is no longer normalized and understood the way it once was. “Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door” This quote is used to express the façade that Eleanor hides behind in her lonely life so as to hide her misery from the rest of the world. This shows how although Eleanor may want companionship, she is choosing not to belong to the rest of the world through her decision to hide herself and not reach out to anyone. This emphasises how people choose not to belong, even if the decision not to belong is not entirely understood by the decision maker. Father McKenzie is another character in the song who no longer can find a place within this world to belong. “Writing the words to a sermon that no one will hear, no one comes near” This quote, whilst showing the Father’s obvious lack of relationship and place, as his parish no longer frequents his sermons, demonstrations how belonging can be a chain reaction.

People are no longer frequenting father McKenzie’s sermons, insinuating that they no longer feel they belong to God and the church, which in turn takes away Father McKenzie’s place to belong. This illustrates the way belonging is intertwined with the worlds of others. People create a sense of belonging for others without having conscious knowledge of it, making a chain reaction of belonging that can be severed by anyone without them even realising the consequences of their actions. The melody of the song is also significant as we hear a lone cello playing in the background. The cello, whilst in harmony with the other instruments, plays on a chord of its own, not belonging to the harmony of the other instruments but playing its own melody. This technique is used by The Beatles as a way of enhancing the symbolism of Eleanor and Father McKenzie. The lone cello reinforces the feelings of loneliness and the sense of detachment felt by Eleanor and Father McKenzie from the rest of society (the other chords playing in harmony with each other) and demonstrates their situation, they are a part of the music but they do not belong in the same way.

Through studying the concept and significance of belonging I have come to find that my perceptions of myself and my world have been altered. Skrzynecki’s poetry has opened my mind to the idea of how different worlds can shape people in such different ways, and the way the worlds of the people around you can have such a large effect on your own sense of belonging. My related text has enlightened my perceptions of what not belonging is, and how subconsciously common it is among people today, illustrating how and where I myself do and do not belong within my own world and the worlds of those around me.

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