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Feliks Skrzynecki Analysis

An analysis of Feliks Skrzynecki by Peter Skrzynecki
by

Gabriella Hespe-Poulos

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of Feliks Skrzynecki Analysis

Feliks Skrzynecki My gentle father
Kept pace only with the Joneses
Of his own mind’s making –
Loved his garden like an only child,
Spent years walking its perimeter
From sunrise to sleep.
Alert, brisk and silent,
He swept its paths
Ten times around the world. Hands darkened
From cement, fingers with cracks
Like the sods he broke,
I often wondered how he existed
On five or six hours’ sleep each night –
Why his arms didn’t fall off
From the soil he turned
And tobacco he rolled. His Polish friends
Always shook hands too violently,
I thought ... Feliks Skrzynecki
That formal address
I never got used to.
Talking, they reminisced
About farms where paddocks flowered
With corn and wheat,
Horses they bred, pigs
They were skilled in slaughtering.
Five years of forced labour in Germany
Did not dull the softness of his blue eyes. Belonging is an active process that needs constant 'policing' in order to maintain its integrity i.e. boundaries and exclusions are important.

Belonging is experienced over time- it can change as circumstances change

Belonging needs 'cultivation' through memories and physical actions

Belonging can be subconsciously transferred; people might 'belong' even if it is unconscious


I never once heard
Him complain of work, the weather
Or pain. When twice
They dug cancer out of his foot,
His comment was: “but I’m alive”. Growing older, I
Remember words he taught me,
Remnants of a language
I inherited unknowingly –
The curse that damned
A crew-cut, grey haired
Department clerk
Who asked me in dancing-bear grunts:
“Did your father ever attempt to learn English?” On the back steps of his house,
Bordered by golden cypress,
Lawns – geraniums younger
Than both parents,
My father sits out the evening
With his dog, smoking,
Watching stars and street lights come on,
Happy as I have never been. At thirteen,
Stumbling over tenses in Caesar’s Gallic War,
I forgot my first Polish word.
He repeated it so I never forgot.
After that, like a dumb prophet,
Watched me pegging my tents
Further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall. play on slang term 'keeping up with the Joneses' meaning trying to compete with others' lifestyle. 'of his own mind's making' shows he doesn't care simile suggests he tenderly looks after the garden, considers it family characterises him as a sentry/ security guard protecting his house hyperbole indicates his unceasing hard work to maintain his place sods= soil. Suggests that he worked very hard to establish and maintain- is this about his garden or job? hyperbole, suggests the constant work but also relaxation adverb 'always' emphasises cultural differences but also suggests their animation and physicality adverb 'never' suggests that the poet can't understand the ways his father belongs to different cultures and communities imagery of their homeland reinforces their 'simple' lifestyle of hard work; if you compare to '10 Mary Street' they seem to maintaining this ethos imagery suggests that Feliks has maintained his positive attitude to the world despite significant hardship adverb 'never' again reinforces the positive aspects of Feliks' character again, imagery of physical work: 'dug cancer' but also a sense that he is physically and emotionally strong remnants = leftovers; suggesting that P.S's sense of belonging to ancestors culture was incidental/subconscious but powerful imagery of Clerk emphasises his 'sameness' and conformity question indicates that for some people belonging is about conformity and exclusion bordered - suggests protection from outside elements; this has been lovingly cultivated contrast between father and son introduced; father maintains only a little patch of land he needs to belong The title of a book written by Julius Caesar about his battles from 58-51 BC. repetition of 'never' shows that belonging is an active process Hadrian's Wall- a wall built by the Romans in Britain to protect them from northern tribes imagery of the tents- suggests that P.S's sense of belonging is quite fragile, temporary, easily destroyed compared to his father's. If P.S. is going south, that means he is moving away from the 'wall' his father established? I.e. forgetting Poland, and integrating?
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