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Feliks Skrzynecki

Feliks Skrzynecki is the poet’s father and this poem is a tribute to his dignity and stoicism in the face of loss and hardship. Felix’s individual journey from Europe to Australia, from one culture to another, echoes through the poem and it is clear that the impact of the journey is as strong for the son as it is for the father.

Feliks Skrzynecki is an individual physical and cultural journey experienced by Felik’s and narrated by Peter Skrzynecki. It seems Felix Skrzynecki never was culturally accepted in Australia, except by other immigrants, “Did your father ever attempt to learn English?” Despite this, Felix Skrzynecki is at peace, he made the best of his journey and finds contentment in the simple things, “Watching the stars and street lights come on, / Happy as I have never been.” This is quite a suprising yet strong statement, which suggests that Peter envies his father because he has never felt this contentment and fulfillment.

Throughout the poem there is an obvious respect and admiration of the poet’s father and his life. Although the poem also shows that inevitably the son, Peter, is growing away into his own identity shaped by this new world, “Pegging my tents / Further and further south of Hadrian’s wall”. It is obvious that relationship between father and son is full of love and respect but despite this there is an inevitable estrangement because Peter is moving into his own world. Peter is moving away from his parental heritage towards Australia and a modern, western culture.

The opening of the poem describes Felix Skrzynecki simply, “My gentle father”. The very first line sets the tone of the poem, full of respect and admiration. It describes how Felix is a determined and focused man “Five years of forced labour …/Did not dull the softness of his blue eyes.” Felix Skrzynecki has always been positive and optimistic despite all obstacles, “I never once heard / Him complain.”

The structure of this poem...
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