On sunny Adriatic shores
on picturesque villages, vineyards,
stony farms, vegetable gardens,
the ancient Ottoman yoke
sat heavily on its poverty
stricken people as the conflict
loomed that would shatter it.

At first families, villages
joined to pay fares for their
menfolk to seek fortunes
abroad until later uncles
sent home fares for nephews
to join them, then later again
young girls for brides.

In the southern reaches
of the vast Pacific
they laboured for riches
digging up fossilised sap
for varnish, and polish
working long hours in
cold muddy swamps.

Scorned by other settlers
they toiled on resolutely.
In time their hard work
freed them to buy land,
plant vineyards, orchards
market gardens, set up
shops for their produce
in a prosperity unknown
in their beloved homeland.

* “gum” was the fossilised sap of ancient
fallen kauri trees later covered by vast swamps.

Previously posted September 2017.


2 thoughts on “Gumdiggers

    1. Thank you very much. Yes many countries suffered under Ottoman rule. I was amazed at what the first Croatian and Serbian immigrants suffered here in New Zealand when they first arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and wondered why they would stay. As time went by I learned that life for them back home was much much harder. Here they could put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Later on they did even better for themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

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