Schooling is supposedly a place which nourishes an individual and promotes one’s growth, sense of community and identity. However, Peter Sckryznecki’s poem St Patrick’s College challenges this idea through the depiction of an individual who is disengaged and struggles to develop a sense of connection and find his place within the school community. The reflective mood of the poem is established through the use of past tense; Sckrzynecki also uses a rather unenthusiastic tone, short sentences and the repetition of “for eight years” to create a chilling atmosphere and describes the long and monotonous time spent in St Patrick’s College.
The opening lines, “Impressed by the uniforms” demonstrates that the persona’s mother was motivated by “superficial” and values of social status when sending him to the school. It was in all of her intentions to provide him with “What was best”, however, the school had become somewhat of an obstacle and the persona questions whether this was “for the best” following all the “darkness” he was forced to endure.
Furthermore the idea that uniforms allows individuals to “fit in” and identifies that the individual has an affiliation with the school is contrasted to “stuck pine needles into the motto” which indicates the individual’s anxiety and dismissive attitude towards the school and it’s values. The persona does not develop any real connections or relationships and feels disconnected from the school and it’s traditions. The disconnectedness is emphasised through the image of “Our Lady… ith her outstretched arms” attempts to portray a sense of embracement and welcoming, however this is juxtaposed to “her face overshadowed by clouds” which creates a sorrowful and sinister atmosphere. In the final stanza, the image of “Our Lady still watching, above, unchanged by eight years of weather” conveys the idea that the persona had no real connection to the school and through the eight years, the “Lady” who has been watching over him had been merely a meaningless figure in the distance. Ultimately, Sckrzynecki’s poem “St Patricks College” depicts the concept of not belonging and it’s impacts on the experience of the individual.