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November 29, 2020


#AusReadingMonth2020 Les Murray

by NancyElin

  • Les Murray  landscape…
  • Murray’s work helped raise Australia’s  poetry to a level of global importance.




  1. Note: Murray’s poetry is deeply interested in memory
  2. the past catching up.
  3. Note: Les Murray favors sound-patterns over strict rules of form.
  4. …through repeating patterns of alliteration and assonance, consonance.
  5. Note: I liked Murray’s explanation: prose is narrow speak…poetry is wide speak!
  6. Note: Of course the moment you read a poem influences your reaction to it.
  7. We are now in quarantimes …
  8. Murray’s first two stanzas in his  poem  ‘Self and Dream Self’
  9. .struck a  “corona” nerve:

Routines of decaying time
fade, and your waking life
gets laborious as science.

You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.


  1. The Black Beaches
  2. This was a poem I would never have understood without some help.
  3. What is peat? What is coal?
  4. ….what is Murray trying to say?
  5. Important to understand more about
  6. peat —>> coal in order to understand the poem!
  1. Theme: different lengths of time
  2. Very slow geological time to form coal
  3. 24 hr time….sun returning from half hid forest
  4. Instant time…frost disappears in a “sugar lick”
  1. Peat is not actually coal, but rather the precursor to coal.
  2. Peat is a soft organic material consisting of
  3. partly decayed plant and, in some cases,
    deposited mineral matter. When peat is
  4. placed under high pressure and heat, it becomes coal.
  5. Peat is the first step in the formation of coal. 
  6. In order to be turned into coal,
  7. the peat must be buried from 4-10 km deep by sediment.


  1. When Two Percent Were Students
  2. Murray tells us how felt, what he saw
  3. …when he returned home after university:
  4. “when rush hours were so tough…a heart attack might get stepped on”
  5. “widows with no facelift of joy…spat their irons”
  6. “Host of depression time and wartime….hated their failure…which was you.

  • Poem:  Dynamic Rest  (…all about these little birds, terns.)
  1. Dynamic and Rest
  2. Just a very simple poem…about birds, terns.
  3. It is one of my favorites.
  4. Murray’s power of observation is the key to his poetry.
  5. A simple bird, the wind, the sand and he weaves it all into perfection.
  6. Title is an oxymoron.
  7. Birds facing a ‘brunt wind’
  8. …the wind affects the birds on the ground.
  9. Their ‘feet have to grip the sand’.
  10. There was constant movement ‘terns rising up through terns’.
  11. The poem illustrates there is constant movement
  12. ….in this attempt of rest.


  1. The Care
  2. Touching poem introduced and read by the poet himself
  3. …in his gravelly Australian voice: LISTEN


  1. The Last Hellos (…again title is oxymoron)
  2. Beautiful elegy for his troubled father..
  3. “Don’t die Dad, but they die….”
  4. “People can’t say goodbye / any more. They say last hellos.”


Last  Thoughts:

  1. How do you read a book of 64 poems?
  2. The best thing to do is  Google each poem before reading it.
  3. Get the feel of the poem…some insight. Then read the poem
  4. That is what I did.
  5. The poems are all under a page or two in word length.
  6. Perfect for reading and re-reading in
  7. order to gain maximum pleasure and understanding.
  8. Of all the articles I read…The New Yorker presented the best
  9. article written by Anna Heyward.
  10. She gives an excellent  description of who Les Murray was.
  11. If you read Les Murray in the future…start
  12. with this link:  The Homegrown Language of Les Murray
  13. Absolutely blown away by Les Murray’s words
  14. …he is as Aussie as a billabong by an old gum tree.
  15. So glad I took the time during #AusReadingMonth2020
  16. …to discover this Australian national treasure, Les Murray.
  17. #MustRead
  18. Score: A+++++++

Read more from #AusReadingMonth, poetry
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 29 2020

    Thanks for the New Yorker link–that looks great.

    I thought he was very good as well.

    • Nov 30 2020

      NYorker link was very informative….and just made Les Murray come alive before reading his poems. The man has such a large vocabulary…..he surprised me all the time!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #AusReadingMonth2020 Wrap-up | NancyElin
  2. AusReading Month – Wrap Up Post – Brona (This Reading Life)

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