Throughout history, hundreds of millions of people around the world have found themselves in the position of being a refugee or migrant lacking identity and belonging nowhere. The lucky ones find new homes and forge out new lives in their adopted countries, but for many the story is often tragic resulting in abject misery and at worst death. The plight of migrants and refugees is as prevalent today as it was in the past.
As a person who was born and raised in Australia, I, like most of us here, have little if any, idea of what it truly feels like to be a migrant or refugee. We really have no experience of feeling displaced, feeling foreign, feeling unwanted.
We have no experience of unstable political environments where we are at the mercy of corrupt governments or ruthless dictators and we have no direct experience of fleeing our homeland for a better life due to war, religious persecution or environmental disasters. We are truly lucky and indeed blessed.
One way to get a sense of what it would be like stepping into the shoes of a migrant or refugee is through the poetry of W.H Auden and Jennifer Srauss. Both composers have the amazing ability to bring their audience into the world of the migrant through simple language as in the case of Refugee Blues and through visual imagery as in Woman on a Melbourne Tram.
Refugee Blues is, as the title suggests, a sad, song like poem. The context is Nazi Germany and the plight of the German Jews. The language used is simple and the voice of the narrator – a Jewish migrant- gives the audience a depressing account of his and his companion’s plight.
Throughout the poem there is a constant reference to not being wanted and having no place to go. …”Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us.” and “But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall we go today.”
The narrator laments that … “Once we had a country and we thought it fair, Look in the atlas and you'll find it there: We cannot...