Migrant Hostel and Crossing the Red Sea

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In two of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems, Migrant Hostel and Crossing the Red Sea, he has expressed many interesting ideas about physical journeys. Through Crossing the Red Sea, we experience through his work ideas about the effect of a physical journey as it happens, and in Migrant Hostel, we are exposed to his ideas of the consequences of a physical journey when it appears to be in its final stages. Some of these ideas include a desire for something familiar, alienation and finally a chance to express emotions.

Firstly, Migrant Hostel is one of Skrzynecki’s poems which expresses the consequences of a physical journey and a key idea it expresses is that towards the end of a physical journey, there can be aroused a desire for something familiar to remind the journeyer of home. This is clearly communicated in the first few lines of the second stanza which reads “nationalities sought/each other out instinctively –/like a homing pigeon/circling to get its bearings.” In this line, the audience is confronted with an image of a large group of people from all different types of cultures and races, looking for those with whom they share accents and nationalities with. It creates in the reader’s mind also a sense of disorientation felt by the ‘characters’ of the text who feel as though they do not know where they are, “like a homing pigeon/circling to get its bearings” a simile which has a connotation of a bird who has been released from its cage far away from home and is trying to work out which direction home is. There is a certain suggested nostalgia in the next few lines, “years and place-names/recognised by accents” which also expresses a desire for familiarity in the immigrants described in this text.

Also, Migrant Hostel expresses the idea that physical journeys can cause those who have traveled to be alienated from those who have not. This isolation is communicated in the very first two lines of the poem, “no one kept count/of all the comings and goings.” These...
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