Ancestors by Peter Skrzynecki

Topic: Family
Sample donated:
Last updated: June 4, 2019

The poem Ancestors by Peter Skrzynecki is a excellent example of belonging and expresses his feeling of not belonging in his family. The poem presents a series of rhetorical questions which reflects on a dream Skrzynecki has had or is having and what he believes the meaning is. We could deduce from this poem and its use of present tense that the dream is a recurring dream about these vague images of Ancestors and how Skrzynecki is desperately trying to understand their relevance to him.

In this dream, the ancestors are unfamiliar to Skrzynecki but give off a very powerful presence to him.They appear to have a message for him, but he can’t hear what it is, they are always pointing at him but never speak so there meaning becomes very mysterious. The use of rhetorical questions gives the poem a dramatic feel and makes the reader feel the same frustration that Skrzynecki feels.

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Belonging is an important when being related to this text, but the main theme is on the lack of identity when it comes to recognising the ancestors and trying to understand his relation to them, trying to develop a sense of belonging but the dream seems to deny this to happen.These ideas about belonging and brought out in the poem though the dream. The physical image of the ancestors is very important, they stand “Shoulder to Shoulder” around Skrzynecki and give off the impression of having a message for him but can’t be heard, so the message remains unheard. Their faces are vague and only become clear as he wakes up on to which he understands the importance of this dream. The poem uses language that develops and presents these thoughts through the images of the ancestors.They a seen first as dark figures or shadows hanging over Skrzynecki in his dream and as they appear old and bearded, it gives the idea that these ancestors are of his polish heritage but still he asks who they are because they are faceless.

The line “Shoulder to shoulder” gives us the idea that they are demanding, insistent, intimidating or even judgmental. Skrzynecki gives us a sense of urgency when he asks why their eyes won’t ever open and what these secrets are that are being whispered in the shadows and this urgency is really seen in the use of rhetorical uestions. The only point in which the ancestor’s faces become clear is right when Skrzynecki wakes up but only for a second. He is left stood up on the answers he was seeking, “the wind tastes of fresh blood” hints at the suffering he believes these polish ancestors of his underwent, yet he feels nothing has been resolved from this dream. Leaving him feeling like he does not belong where he is in the family.

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