analysis of feliks skrzynecki the poem
Copy pasted from other thread:
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.
From cement, fingers with cracks
Like the soda 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, (name in italics)
That formal addres
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.
I never once heard
Him complain of work, the weather
Or pain. Wheb 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
Who asked me in dancing- bear grunts:
"Did your father even attempt to learn English?"
On the back steps of his house,
Bordered by golden bypress,
Lawns- geraniums younger
Than both parents,
My father sits out the evening
With his dog, smoking,
Watching the stars and street lights come on,
Happy as I have never been.
Stumbling over tenses in Caesar's Gallic War ("Gal...war" in italics)
I forgot my first Polish word.
He repeated it so I never forgot.
After that, like a dumb prophet,
Watched my pegging my tents
Further and further south of Hadrian's Wall.
It is an ode written about his father. He might have written it for the occassion of his father's death, or simply because he is getting older himself and the language of his father is coming back to him.
He describes his father:
- he liked gardening
- hard worker
- didn't need much sleep
- worked in a Nazi labour camp for five years, which didn't break him. He is as kind as ever (did not dull the softness in his eyes)
- spoke Polish, and not english, even though he lived in the US now.
- is very happy with life and has a very positive attitude
- tried to teach his son respect for his mother tongue
The latter is amazingly put. At thirteen he is struggling with latin (de bello gallico, about the war in Gaul (modern France) by Julius Caesar, and forgets his first Polish word. There is irony here. He learns a dead language no one speaks anymore, , and starts to forget his native language, which is still very much alive.
The author also calls up the feeling of the father still being very Polish in a country not his own (he never lost his language, never even learnt english), while the author is drawn more to the new country. I think it is a story a lot of immigrants can identify with, still today.
Ironically, and this says a lot about the character of his father, it is not the author who is most happy, even though you would expect him to feel more at home. It is his father: Happy as I have never been.
let me know if you have other questions.
hey thanks desi would be able to relate this poem to a physical journey
no. No physical journey in this one. You only know his father has journeyed in the past from Poland to whereever he is living now.
By the way, the new country is Australia, not the US. See:
I need to know what this poem says about belonging
Well, Golddalek, your starting point can be that the answer to your question is a matter of opinion. It's something about which people can have different opinions. There's no right factual answer to seek. It's not like asking what's inside a box, where you can just open it and see if you are right.
Next you need to understand what "belonging" means. If you have any doubts about that, look up "belong" or "belonging" in a dictionary. If you don't have a hard copy dictionary handy, you can go on-line to
and look up "belonging" as well, but I suggest you don't just stop at the first meaning given. Look at several of the dictionaries mentioned.
You can see that the word "belonging" doesn't appear in the poem, so obviously it doesn't say anything about belonging directly. When your assignment refers to what the poem "says", it probably means what does the poem show or imply by the way it describes examples of belonging
I suggest you look for examples in the poem of someone or something belonging to something or someone or somewhere.
With a bit of imagination, and a few readings of the poem, you should be able quickly to come up with half a dozen examples, and then more. Remember, there's no right or wrong about them. They're matters of opinion. You just need to be able to explain your opinions and give reasons for them.
To start you off, where in your opinion does the poem show Felix Skrzynecki as belonging? What belongs to him? What belongs to his friends?
As for what the poem "says" about the examples of belonging you identify, that will depend on what they are.
I suggest you do this exercise, and list your ideas in a follow-up post. If you are willing to make that effort, I and other Emulers may be able and willing to help you with some follow-up suggestions.
that didnt really help but thanx anyway ian