Reading My Way Around the World

Friday 6 March 2015

The Emigrant Woman's Tale

Csilla Toldy comes from Hungary and now lives in Rostrevor.   She is a poet and a film maker.

She escaped, or rather left Hungary illegally, when she was just 18 years old.    She and her boyfriend at the time travelled to Yugoslavia by train and then took a bus to the border with Italy (the green borders) and from there spent a day and a night on foot crossing the mountains into Trieste in Italy,   A few more train journeys, afraid to sleep in case they were caught, and finally getting to the border with France to discover that she only had a passport for the Eastern bloc countries, not for the West.   So this time they crossed the Alps on foot to eventually get into France and to Paris a week after leaving home supposedly to go on a holiday.

The Emigrant Woman's Tale is her story told in poetry and song, some of my music to her words and some of my own songs that illustrate what was going on here in my life at the same time.

We will be presenting it in the Book Club in Rostrevor on Saturday 14th March and again in No Alibis bookshop in Belfast on Tuesday 14th April.  Entrance is free.
We've also published a short book to go with it - Csilla's poems, my song lyrics, and memoirs from both of us, plus a CD of her reading some her poems and my songs from the show.  It's all very exciting now that it's coming together.

We don't treat our immigrants well - anywhere in the world I suppose.  And yet we were very badly treated when we were emigrants.

This is the final song of the piece

This Is Home (An Immigrant's Tale)

I had a dream of a place
Far far away o’er the sea
Where streets were pure gold
People opened their doors
And everyone’s free to be free

I left all I knew far behind
Family and friends and my life
With memories dear
Held close to my heart
I faced out and never turned back

So happy was I to be free
Here was a chance to be me
I never once feared
That my hopes wouldn’t be
All that I dreamt they could be

Now this is home, home is where I am
Home, home is where I’ll be
Though I’ve travelled many miles
I’m so happy to be here
This is the place I call home

But the people who live in this place
Are not happy seeing my face
They don’t like my accent
My culture, or name
I’m not welcomed, I’m told to go home

What of the times in the past
Their ancestors just like me now
People say “You’re not wanted here”
We are just to be feared
Can’t they remember the hurt?

But this is home, etc..


  1. Oh Fil - this sounds like it will be a most powerful and wonderful performance! We certainly don't treat our incoming and outgoing with much kindness or respect do we? So much us-ness and them-ness is rooted deeply in our collective separation consciousness. I had the thought that since it's become so easy for us to connect worldwide that we'd begin to see significant changes, but I don't think that's been the case. Sigh.

  2. A little kindness means so much. There but by the grace of God go I comes to mind...
    It will, I am sure, be a unforgetable performance.

  3. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be an emigrant, leavng the old behind and starting a new life. I may blog about it when things calm down here. Here in America, it is ironic and sad that I have always had more freedom than those born here, who happen to be black. Today is the 50th aniversary of Bloddy Sunday, the march across that Selma bridge and it has been on TV all morning. Thanks for your support with my difficult times lately. It means a lot.

  4. Hi Fil - what an incredible story .. one I hope to read sometime soon ... good luck with the promotion and I sure hope her/their lives have had happy endings ... Hilary

  5. Thanks for this lovely intro, Fil. I am very excited and it has been great working with you. Csilla

  6. Part of the problem stems from the news features which always appear to cast suspicion and fear about immigration: our country will be over-run, those coming here will be violent, work-shy and wanting handouts. There is little thought given as to why those people have sacrificed so much usually to get here. The children of immigrants I have worked with are normally some of the most eager to do their best and put back into their new community! Hopefully, your collaboration will go some way to setting the record straight :)

    1. Yes, the media have such a lot to answer for ....

      It went really well today ... preaching to the converted maybe, but I'm hopeful that we will get to take this out to a wider audience.


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