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Sunday, January 6, 2008

On Talking To An Old Italian Man

So many years since nineteen thirty three
When I came here from Northern Italy
The language of Australia I could not speak
And many people thought I was a Greek.

I dug trenches with strong work hardened men
And I was only barely nineteen then
A migrant half a world away from home
The loneliness of the exile I have known.

At twenty years I met my wife to be
A dark haired rose of Northern Italy
Marie was seven months older than me
When we settled down to start a family.

The happiest years of life that I did know
She bore me children Paul and Julio
Two healthy children and a loving wife
What more could any one man ask of life? .

I worked as contract drainer 'by the yard'
The money quite good though the work was hard
A young migrant in a great and new Country
I made good use of opportunity.

Though that was years and years and years ago
On looking back those years did quickly flow
My shoulders drooped, my legs grown weak and slow
And look at me now my hair as white as snow.

The loneliest I have been for years and years
Marie is dead 'his eyes filled up with tears'
She was good wife and she meant so much to me
'I pitied him that son of Italy'.

I pitied him for his great sense of loss
In his twilight years his was a heavy cross
An old man he must face the end alone
Without the greatest friend he'd ever known.
Francis Duggan
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