Two days ago Les Murray died at the age of 80. He was a poet of immense stature and regarded as Australia’s Poet Laureate.
I was actually planting broad bean seeds and when I came in and heard the news my mind immediately went to his ‘Broad Bean Sermon’ poem.
He did experience Canberra at certain stages in his life and had that wry sense of humour … roundabouts being in proliferation at the time …
The interstate driver soon discerns
That twelve identical statues of Burns
Are unlikely even in this braw town
And that there are Circles, interwound
To test, by his cunning and his mettle,
Whether he shall go home, or settle
And the following are details from Peter Alexander’s book – ‘Les Murray – A Life in Progress’ …
In July 1996 an ambulance drove Les Murray into John Hunter hospital Newcastle (NSW) with a very serious liver complaint. He was wheeled into casualty and prepared for immediate surgery. Convinced he was dying he felt neither fear not regret at the prospect. Wheeled rapidly down wide corridors, he stared unblinking at lights passing rhythmically above him:
Ribbed glass glare-panels flow
over you down urgent corridors,
dismissing midday outside. Slow,
they’d resemble wet spade-widths in a pit;
you’ve left grief behind you, for others;
your funeral: who’ll know you’d re-planned it?
God, at the end of prose,
somehow be our poem-
where forebrainy consciousness goes
I can not help thinking of the these thought provoking words too –
Just two hours after
Eternal Life pills came out
Someone took thirty.
(ref: page 146, of the same book)
His words will live on especially his vernacular representation of the Australian bush landscape he loved.
May he be at peace; perhaps with a new poem to play and ponder.