Belonging Dealth with in Migrant Hostel and 10 Mary Street

Topics: Poetry, Homing pigeon, Stanza Pages: 5 (1806 words) Published: March 8, 2011
How is the concept of belonging dealt with in the poems Migrant Hostel and 10 Mary Street

The concept of belonging is dealt with in the poems Migrant Hostel and 10 Mary Street through constant images throughout the poem created by Skrzynecki. The composer of the poems has decided to portray the way the family feels from when they are moved out of the hostel to when they actually have a home and feel as if they belong to the land where the house is situated. In Migrant Hostel the poem is about the experiences of migrants when they first arrived in Australia and were placed in migrant camps, Skrzynecki employs the third person to present how he and the migrants were united in their alienation from the new country. As a five year old, he had not begun the process of disconnecting from his cultural heritage. During the two year period, in order to cope with homesickness and fear of the unknown, the migrants sought each other out instinctively to attempt to feel the sense of belonging to the new adopted home. Whereas in 10 Mary Street conveys the feeling that they are loved and nurtured in a house filled with special, irreplaceable memories. The style of the poem captures the exact feeling that the Skrzynecki family feel. The poem conveys a clear sense of belonging. The poem immediately evokes a sense of security and the feelings of stability and belonging that are associated with the concept of the home. Towards the middle of the poem there is a sense of happiness and contentment within the Skrzynecki family. With the contentment and the happiness it creates flashbacks from the past which is evident within the poem.

The strong sense of transitoriness and anonymity is established in the opening lines – ‘no one kept count of all the comings and goings’. There is no concern for individuals; ‘the comings and goings’ and the arrivals and new comers are simply just a part of the process, like business and making it impersonal. The sense of impersonality and anonymity is further emphasized by the reference to the ‘busloads’ of newcomers – individuality is lost and is overwhelmed by the multitudes of new arrivals. This is heightened further by the last 2 lines of the stanza, where the migrants are ‘left wondering who will be coming next’. This contributes to the sense of impermanence felt by the migrants, who struggle to find a sense of security and belonging amidst the uncertainty that a new life holds and over which they have little control. The title of the poem 10 Mary Street, a home address, immediately evokes a sense of security and feeling of stability and belonging that are associated with the concept of a home. This sense of belonging is quickly strengthened by the opening lines of the poem ‘for nineteen years’, with as reference to a prolonged period of time establishing a sense of permanency and security. The poet’s reminiscences of the family’s day routine served to strengthen the feeling of permanency; it’s a routine that has clearly been followed over many years ‘we departed each morning’. A sense of comfort is derived from this well established routine, the image of shutting the house ‘like a well oiled lock’ carrying out with it a sense of familiarity and ordinariness. The poets detailed description of the family’s habit of ‘[hiding] the key under a rusty bucket’ hints further at the comfort and strong sense of belonging that he felt here. The reference to small details, such as the secreting of the key - a detail only known to the family – establishes a feeling of family intimacy and connectedness.

The struggle to find a sense of security is depicted in the image of people seeking each other out; the migrants, guided by the same instinct that guides a homing pigeon seek out others of the same nationality; they are automatically drawn together searching for some familiarity, some sense of identity and belonging. This serves to heighten the dislocation experienced by the migrants – they must rely on their...
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