Les Murray’s New Shed

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Mainly the steady show of recalcitrant realism – not the purpose of his total effort, but nearly always its undertone – springs from the fact that the poet, like all the people mentioned in his poems, works for a living. Luckily for his box office figures, he doesn’t make the business of observation sound always like hard yakka. Even when close to home in the bush, you can sometimes, as in “The Cowladder Stanzas”, just look.

Not from a weather direction
Black cockatoos come crying over
Unflapping as Bleriot monoplanes
To crash in pine tops for the cones.

The monoplanes were in at the start of the transportation revolution that would give the Australian poets the world for an oyster. Famous for having never left home, Murray has left home over and over, piling up the languages and the air-miles in a quietly successful quest for world citizenship.

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