Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Peter Skrzynecki (Ancestors)

stanza 1 the figures have a nightmarish quality which is developed through simple but evocative visual imagery they ‘hang over you’ and stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ which makes them threatening in number and intimidating in stance the sibilance within the last line augments the tenor of disquiet created by the poet’s reference to these nameless and ‘faceless’ men no reference is made to women which also increases the veiled threat implied by shadowy figures. ne possible interpretation of this might be that male ancestors have greater impact on his cultural and social identity stanza 2 the darkness becomes tinged with urgency as his sleep is broken by whispered secrets. nothing is distinct or clear, developing an atmosphere of uneasiness. it is a scene we can identify with, those disturbing dreams and nightmares that can come to us all in the middle of the night reference is made to the ever-open eyes of these figures. we wonder what are t hey looking at or for, and wether their appearance is a negative or positive omen. t also leads us to wonder whether their visions are insightful or apocalyptic stanza 3 the ring they form around the poet is both encircling and yet directional, their pointing fingers and footprints leading elsewhere to undetermined places. the term ‘ring’ generates a certain feeling of alarm, as if the sleeping figure is being entrapped by these figures from the past directions are unclear, mirroring the indistinct quality of dreams. it also raises the level of uncertainty and apprehension felt by the dreamer stanza 4 hese nocturnal visitors are given a natural backdrop, simply described as a mountain, river, plains, grasses and sand simple, sensory imagery describes the ‘sound of a river’ and a ‘moonlit plain’ giving some semblance of place but not enough to get any real bearings or location it is still a dream-liek landscape; ill-defined but evocative and dis quitening stanza 5 we ponder what these speechless, watchful and hovering figures ‘wait’ for and question their purpose urgency is created by the use of hyphen which creates a pregnant pause in the middle of the question being asked. his involves the reader in the questioning process, challenging us to respond from a personal perspective it appears that these dead ancestors form the past are awaiting new members to join their host, adding resonance to the death theme developed earlier Stanza 6 the nightmarish quality is not relieved by wakefulness which brings limited relief disquiet remains, for consciousness ironically makes their faces disappear just as they ‘became clearer’.They remain metaphorically out of reach the visual intensity of the simile ‘dry/as cake mud’ emphasises the negative impact of this ancestral visitation which neither soothes nor appeases the dreamer stanza 7 this is the only stanza with three lines instead of four; the brevity adds to the discordant images of un-stirring sand, grass and wind which ‘tastes of blood’. the inversion of typical senses jars our expectations the reference to the taste of ‘blood’ refers again to the death theme and adds to the reader’s sense of nightmarish disorientation. mirroring that felt by the disturbed sleeper by the disturbed sleeper.

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