RIP Les Murray 1938-2019

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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.