The title of the poem, ‘Ancestors’ by Peter Skrzynecki instantly evokes the idea of family relationships, history and culture. However, in relation to the selected poems set for study such as ‘Feliks Skrzynecki’ and ‘Postcard’, Skrzynekci does not have a strong link to his Polish culture due to migrating to Australia at an early age, therefore, he would have a tenuous link to his family history. The poem is equivocal and can be interpreted in many contexts, but essentially, Skrzynecki establishes the point that his ancestors are anonymous to him, and their identity is depicted as clandestine through the many contradictions, rhetorical questions and metaphors. For readers, the poem can be seen as ambiguous, but has a profound association with Skrzynecki’s cultural heritage and family history, which relates to him losing grip of his cultural belonging.
Skrzynecki commences the poem with
“Who are these shadows
that hang over you in a dream”
and uses the metaphor, “shadows” to describe his ancestors. This strongly suggests a spiritual concept, supporting the recurring idea that his ancestors are anonymous and their identity is not revealed but kept hidden. Skrzynecki also evokes the idea that his ancestors may be haunting him as they “hang over” him, which might also suggest that Skrzynecki has a burden he has to carry, possibly being guilt due to his disassociation with his culture. The clandestine concept is also supported through the secrets “they whisper into the darkness” as the darkness symbolizes Skrzynecki’s inability to see and apprehend his ancestor’s identity. Skrzynekci’s ancestors are trapped in a void, which is post death, which leaves him in a situation where they could be eternally unknown, a burden that he has to carry with him throughout his life. However, Skrzynekci questioning
“to what star do
their footprints lead?
Suggests that his ancestors once...