By: Jordan White
A journey is when one has experienced a dramatic transition in their life, which as a direct result has changed them physically, mentally or emotionally. Throughout Peter Skrzynecki’s poetry, he expresses all types of journeys during his childhood and how he, through very few words in his poems, dealt emotionally with these alterations. In the poems “Crossing the Red Sea”, “Immigrants at Central Station” and “Leaving Home” Skrzynecki explores the use of poetic techniques through his poems such as metaphors, repetition, and similes giving the reader a sense of the challenges he encountered or was about to encounter. In my related text, “Castaway” by Robert Zemeckis it discovers the difficulty of sticking to your physical journey while balancing the inner struggle (journey). It also shows how Tom Hanks (Chuck Noland) deals with the different obstacles that he is to face on the island alone through the use of a variety of film techniques.
In the poem “Crossing the Red Sea” Peter Skrzynecki looks into the physical journey one another goes through when one is forced to move up and out due to violence in their home countries. The immense change was not planned or necessarily wanted, and the fear of what may lie ahead may be just as daunting as the life they left behind. When the immigrants are” look[ing] for shorelines” they are showing a sign of desperation to get off the boat and set foot on land. Then the use of a metaphor in the last stanza of this poem “As they beckoned towards a blood-rimmed horizon” signifies the suffering they faced during their voyage across the red sea. It also displays the hope that was still left in the eyes of the immigrants that had fled their homes to travel across the entire world in search of a peaceful colonisation. “The equator was still to be crossed” implies that not only has their physical journey been robust and hazardous, but also that they were only half way through their travels and that their destination was still in the distant future.
In the poem “Leaving Home” by Skrzynecki, the composer expresses his negative views on his own physical journeys throughout this poem. Skrzynecki uses a range of techniques such as, metaphors and similes to demonstrate his attitude towards his new job in a new country. The use of the simile “We packed the car like a war time train” gives the reader a feel of Skrzyneckis emotion during the abruptness of the change, as well as the connection he has had to the war. The metaphor “I forgot for a moment where I was going” exhibits the idea that his journey has quickly started to develop into something he cannot change. The long-winded wait for the process of administrative bureaucracy made Skrzynecki start to feel impatient and bothered by his surroundings. The metaphor “The man behind the desk never once looked me in the eyes” not only highlights his lack of importance to the other man, but also the feeling that he is less superior to those of Australian descent. Which therefore brings up the issue of having a slight cultural barrier between the two countries. Through the Hyperbole “He was the millionth person who couldn’t pronounce my name”, you experience the annoyance Skrzynecki feels about the cultural barrier between the two countries once again, as he feels that no one is taking him seriously.
Skrzynecki’s next poem “Immigrants at Central Station” displays a stronger emotional journey that the Skrzynecki family went through, rather than the physical. The first line of the poem “It was sad to hear the train’s whistle this morning..” stimulates a sense of gloom whereas typically the noise of the train’s whistle brings content to the passengers waiting countless minutes/hours for the train to finally arrive. This tells us that the Skrzyneckis were sad due to the fact that they were about to board the train into the unknown. “Time waited anxiously with us”, the use of personification in this stanza is used to highlight that the immigrants waiting a long time, but that they were not quite sure exactly what they were waiting for. “Like cattle bought for slaughter” is a simile that illustrates great sentiment. The simile represents the crowded train station in which the immigrants were standing in, but most importantly the dreadful conditions that the immigrants were experiencing. The last line of the poem is a personification, “While time ran ahead” this indicates that while the immigrants stood there, waiting, time had passed them by and kept on going, until they were the only thing left behind.
In my related text “Castaway”, Zemeckis presents different concepts of journeys through the film by using film techniques such as camera angles and background sounds. When the plane starts to shake and starts going through turbulence, the director is attempting to make the audience feel anxious, as if they were right there on the plane themselves. The uses of background sounds create a sense of panic in the air. For example when the plane was falling from the sky, the noise of the engine, as well as worried crewmembers brought a frightening atmosphere to the scene. When Chuck lands on the uninhabited and isolated island he has to learn how to survive in order to stay alive. Over time he becomes lonely and as a direct result starts to loose his mind. The “close up” effect helps us see the differing emotions that Chuck is feeling; this makes the audience feel sympathy towards Chuck.
Throughout all three of Peter Skrzynecki’s poems and my choice of related text, “Castaway”, they display insights on the hardships that some journeys express. To complete any type of journey you must overcome obstacles that are in the way. When you learn from your difficult tasks you have a sense of satisfaction, which makes you stronger for any other journeys that may lie ahead. This was the common theme throughout all four texts. This was a great way of showing the reader/audience that you cant always choose your journeys, but it is about the path you choose to take that influences the outcome of your journey.