Performance – Les Murray – Comments

Performance
I starred that night, I shone:
I was footwork and firework in one,
a rocket that wriggled up and shot
darkness with a parasol of brilliants
and a peewee descant on a flung bit;
I was blusters of glitter-bombs expanding
to mantle and aurora from a crown,
I was fouéttes, falls of blazing paint,
para-flares spot-welding cloudy heaven,
loose gold off fierce toeholds of white,
a finale red-tongued as a haka leap:
that too was a butt of all right!
As usual after any triumph, I was
of course, inconsolable.
Les Murray (1938 – 2019)

fouéttes = a pirouette performed with a circular whipping movement of the raised leg to the side
haka = a ceremonial dance in New Zealand Māori culture, with quite an aggressive end-shout

Well, it is approaching the year end and a time to reflect on goals achieved. How have we performed. Although in this poem we probably think of performance in relation to stage and audience.

It is a list poem, a list of superlatives in self appraisal in terms of originality in word expression. Brilliance and fire feature throughout with a nice butt ending as in the throwing away of a cigarette.

I do like that word inconsolable in the last two lines. It has a certain ambivalent mind feel. It usually refers to a person unable to be comforted. Perhaps inconsolable because of the immense empty hole that follows such flaming achievement that can never ever be repeated. And perhaps comfort is needed to bring down from the heights of self-emotional gratification.

My advice is to have a succession of goals to keep you on your toes. And I will in no way elaborate on my successes over the year!

I am reminded of a wonderful poem by Thomas Hardy concerning a superb church performance by an Anglican Minister – In Church – Thomas Hardy – Analysis | my word in your ear

Irrespective of his quick minded erudite nature there is a certain irony about this poem in that I attended several readings by LM and from the recipient end I found his readings and repour with attendees not akin to justify such extravagant words.

Les Murray was arguably of that standing in Australian Poetry to be considered a de facto Australian Poet Laureate but Australia does not have a ‘Poet Laureate’ as such. In 1998 LM received the Queen’s Medal for Poetry.

Les Murray on Wikipedia – Les Murray (poet) – Wikipedia

Your word in my ear ...

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