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  • Richard Farr

RIP Les Murray 1938-2019

Les_Murray_im_Lyrikkabinett_München_2014 - Edited

The brilliant old curmudgeon, Australia’s great Bard of Bunyah, is dead. I found his political, social and religious outlook by turns offensive or barely intelligible, but there was a deep authenticity in him – and anyway the work’s the thing, the astonishing work. He makes me think of Auden on Yeats:

Time that is intolerant Of the brave and innocent And indifferent in a week To a beautiful physique Worships language and forgives Everyone by whom it lives Pardons cowardice, conceit Lays its honors at their feet.

Reading Murray was – is – like moving to a new continent where the flora and fauna are recognisable in outline but utterly different from any species you’ve seen before. The Burning Truck – oh, oh! What a talent. Another favorite of mine is a poem about beds, Homage to the Launching Place. More here. And this, from memory:

Brutal policy Like inferior art Knows whose fault it all is.

In good news, for me: he published 30+ volumes, so there are acres of him that I’ve yet to walk.

The Atlantic has a profile of him here.


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