Three migration poems: from grief to hope

Today it’s National Poetry Day, and in Babylon Radio we want to commemorate it by sharing some poems about what it means to leave your country and start a new life from scratch, told from different perspectives and based in different countries.

“To depart is to die a little”

As French author Edmond Haraucourt wrote, «partir, c’est mourir un peu» (to leave is to die a little). That idea is also reflected in Pere Rom’s poem Corrandes D’exili (Exile Songs), written in Santiago de Chile after the author escaped the Spanish Civil War. Although it is a sad poem (most migration related poems are), it retains a sense of hope to it.

In Catalonia I left
the day of my departure
half of my life drowsing:
the other half came with me
not to leave me lifeless.

Today in France’s lands
and tomorrow further maybe,
I won’t die of nostalgia
yet of nostalgia I will live.

This poem became an iconic song after it was put to music by classic Catalonian singer/songwriter Lluis Llac. Recently, an extraordinary version by singer Sílvia Pérez Cruz was released. You can read the whole poem here.

The Irish Diaspora

Today, Ireland is a country with a vibrant multicultural community, created by people who migrated here. On the other hand, lots of Irishmen and women have left their homeland as a result of famines, wars or economic downturns, making this one of the main themes of Irish literature (and music). Prominent Irish writers like James Joyce or Samuel Beckett lived most of their lives in other parts of the world, where they wrote about their experiences and the frustration of not being able to live at home. Things haven’t changed so much. More recently Anthony McDermott, an expatriate forced to leave after the 2008 economic crash, published in The Irish Times this poem titled My Generation.

Now I have come to Australia, like so many of my peers,
Knowing that Irelands’ recession, is likely to last for years.
And many of these young people, in this country of fire and sand,
Are gone forever, never to return, to our beautiful motherland.

Will they meet us on the runway, and welcome us home with great cheers?
And will the men in power and the bankers, give us back our long, lost years?
Now my generation’s leaving, a generation going away,
A generation that didn’t cause this mess, but the generation that has to pay.

A new world

Despite the frustration and hopelessness which accompany many migration stories, they also represent the beginning of something new. The blending of cultures is the most positive side of emigration, and we at Babylon Radio want to make the most of it. This idea of a new world is reflected upon in the work of Colombian author Leonardo Torres.

A New World (Frontiers)

One says to himself when seeing them:

A new world is being born

There’s no doubt

And to a new world they are being born

As without knowing it and almost in spite of them

A new world is being born.

The National Poetry Day organisers want to encourage people to write and share poetry, and so do we! If you have any special poems that you like, or even that you’ve written, we would love to read them!


One comment

  1. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a
    famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

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