Ordeal of Modesto Varaschetti

Like a rat in a hole, or a fox in its lair,
When the hunt is closing in,
The miner lay trapped in a pitch black den -
The hunter would surely win.

In a pocket of air, off tunnel ten,
One thousand feet below,
A tenuous hold on life had he,
At the edge of the waters flow.

All but he had struggled free,
When a flash flood swept the mine,
Which torrent left the works awash,
As high as level nine.


From where a tapping sound revealed,

Modesto did survive,
But could the miracle extend,
To bring him out alive.

From far Fremantle succour came,
By rail came diving gear,
A tender thundered through the night,
On line now express clear.

In lonesome fear, in pending tomb,
Poor Varaschetti lay,
Recounting naught of drifting time,
Not knowing night from day.

Then on day three, a diver bold,
Would make the grave descent,
Mids’t unknown debris of the flood
And mine impediment.


Four times he tried, but was denied

Success at each attempt;
But on the fifth, all obstacles,
Persistence would circumvent.

When monster like he burst in view,
When thus his goal was won,
The captive miner truly thought
He was in Kingdom Come.

Soon food and light allayed his fright,
Awoke life’s joy again;
His savior too, was touched with joy -
His trials were not in vain.


Through six more days, while pumps prevailed,

A daily dive he braved,
To take the food and comfort down,
By which a life was saved.

So oft a mine mishap reveals,
A sad and horror tale,
Too few there are, that can compare,
The miracle of Bonnievale.

Clarry Dunstan

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