Physical Journeys; Peter Skrzynecki and Related Texts

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Physical journeys also involve emotional and spiritual journeys

A physical journey brings inner growth and development from the experiences a person encounters from a physical transition from one place to another. All physical journeys include obstacles and hardships however they also involve emotional and spiritual journeys along the way. Peter Skrzynecki’s poems “Postcard” and “Crossing The Red Sea” are both examples of an emotional journey within a physical journey. A feature article ‘A Desert Odyssey’ reported by Sue Williams and Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ also involve emotional journeys within a physical journey.

‘Postcard’ is a poem by Skrzynecki about the arrival of a postcard for his parents. As Skrzynecki’s culture is different from his parents, as he is Australian and they are Polish, this poem represents an emotional journey and a promised physical journey to come. The title ‘Postcard’ is a connotation as the readers first thoughts of a postcard as being an insignificant event, however this is juxtaposed by the intense emotional journey that can be brought about by something small and seemingly unimportant shown throughout the entire poem. “A postcard sent by a friend/Haunts me” are the first lines of the first stanza in the poem which is an immediate and intense start to the poem which juxtaposes the title ‘Postcard’ and shows that the postcard has had an immediate emotional impact by receiving the postcard. The poem is significant however as it represents Skrzynecki’s parents culture, by showing a picture of Warsaw, the capital of Poland on the front. This is what effects Skrzynecki the most as it is symbolic for showing Skrzynecki feels outcast to his parents. The personification “Warsaw, Old Town; I never knew you” demonstrates the outcast feeling Skrzynecki has towards Warsaw as he speaks to the postcard in 2nd person, also showing he has nothing in common with the place. Repetition of “I never knew you” also shows the emotional impact Skrzynecki feels towards the postcard and emphasises his unfamiliarity with Poland. A childish retort by Skrzynecki “I’ve seen red buses elsewhere” also emphasises the emotional journey the postcard is taking him on despite his reluctance. A rhetorical question “What’s my choice to be?” shows as much as he is pretending the postcard is of no significance to him and he is unfamiliar with the place, it is still a part of him and he is still undecided and uncertain on how to react by the postcard. The last stanza of the poem is personified by “A lone tree whispers: We will meet before you die”, therefore giving him a prophecy that he will eventually travel to Poland and gives a promise of a physical journey to come that is inevitable. Therefore the poem ‘Postcard’ shows readers that physical journeys can be created by emotional journeys and also be included into the physical journey. ‘Postcard’ shows readers events and things of the past can be a catalyst for an intense physical and emotional journey for the present and future.

Aswell as the past being a catalyst for a physical and emotional journey, ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ also by Skrzynecki shows that A physical journey can also provide catharsis (emotional release) for repressed emotion and memory. Crossing the Red Sea is successful in showing that physical journeys can also include emotional journeys as Skrzynecki is faced by a dramatic change of direction in life. This poem focuses on the journey of Skrzynecki as being part of the immigrants who escaped from slavery in a war torn Europe (1949) to freedom in Australia and its emotional impact. The title ‘Crossing the Red Sea’ is a biblical allusion to Moses as he escaped slavery to freedom which instantly gives the reader an idea of the intense emotional and physical journey Skrzynecki is embarking on. “To watch a sunset they would never see again” is symbolic as it shows the immigrants have left the past and their old life behind them. This...
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