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Please provide examples of literary techniques in Peter Skrzynecki's poem "Postcard." 

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nmuulak | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 5, 2012 at 12:17 AM via web

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Please provide examples of literary techniques in Peter Skrzynecki's poem "Postcard." 

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 6, 2012 at 3:51 AM (Answer #1)

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[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question per posting. Additional questions should be posted separately.]

In Peter Skrzynecki's poem "Postcard," there are several devices used. The first can be found at the beginning of the first stanza (and is repeatedly used throughout the poem). The first technique of note is that of personification. This device makes use of figurative language: words that are not to be taken literally.

Also known as the "ornaments of language," figurative language does not mean exactly what it says...

Personification provides a clearer image in the reader's mind of what is being described by giving an inanimate, non-human thing (object, animal, etc.) the characteristics of a human.

A post card sent by a friend

Haunts me…

The post card does not have the ability to haunt someone. Its contents may preoccupy the speaker's mind, but the post card cannot do anything.

"Red buses on a bridge" is an example of imagery: the color red appeals to the reader's visual sense; in this case, imagery is more impactful to the reader by the author's use of sensory details—details that appeal to the senses.

Personification is used again in the second section with:

Warsaw, Old Town...

You survived...

Dying generation...

Each of these lines refers to the town that does not "survive"—its people do. And a generation does not die: only its members do. Personification is used repeatedly: we see it again...

And all rivers have


An obstinate glare.

Rivers cannot feel the emotion of obstinacy; they also cannot "glare," which suggests the human sense of sight, but also infers anger. Rivers cannot be angry.

The poem ends with another example of personification:

A lone tree


Whispers...

Trees are not capable of whispering. When the writer describes them in this way, it simply provides a more indepth image (for the reader) when words paint mental picture that help, in this case, to the create and develop the mood of the poem. 

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:30 PM (Answer #2)

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Some of the less readily recognized literary techniques the poet chose to use are foreshadowing, understated sarcasm, irony, antithesis, amplification, rhetorical questioning. These all enhance and support the main theme of rejection of belonging to the old traditions and expectations: "Let me be. / [...] / I stare / ... / And refuse to answer".

The poet foreshadows the unexpected, and perhaps originally conceived, theme of rejection with the words "Haunts me" comprising the second line of this free style, free form poem. In keeping with the negative tone established with "Haunts me," understated sarcasm appears in the title of the postcard: "Warsaw: Panorama of the Old Town." This is sarcasm because the connotation (suggested meaning) for "panorama" is bliss, beauty, appeal, yet we already know the speaker feels no appeal toward nor bliss from the postcard. Subtle irony appears in the description of the river park ("something / Like a park borders ...") that isn't quite the park it pretends to be. [Sarcasm and irony, though related, are not the same thing; they differ by sarcasm's intention to harm.]

The important rhetorical device/technique of antithesis appears in the descriptions of his parents reactions and his own. They are speaking of cherished Warsaw and "Beloved Ukraine" while the speaker is antithetically expressing the opposite sentiment: "I repeat, I never knew you, / Let me be." He reinforces this thematic sentiment with amplification (to expand or enlarge upon) of the ideas associated with the "Great city" (stanza 2, lines 5-17) and amplification of his parents feelings: "My father / ... / Beloved Ukraine." Finally, the speaker emphasizes his antithetical attitude by asking rhetorical questions:

What’s my choice
To be?

What more
Do you want
Besides
The gift of despair?

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