A tribute to Clive James

A tribute to Clive James …

Clive James (1939 – 2019 ) died on Thursday at the age of 80. He was an Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist, best known for his autobiographical series Unreliable Memoirs, for his chat shows and documentaries on British television and for his prolific journalism. He lived and worked in England from 1962. Clive James was such an erudite and clever user of words and a literary Australian Expat giant over a wide range of literay work.

He stated that his best poetry was in the last years of his life from 2010 when he was first diagnosed with leukaemia and emphysema. In many ways he said that this extension to life were golden years while in reflective mood and at a slower pace. Luckily he was not in any pain.

When he was not in a position to return to Australia he had strong mind memories that were sufficient sustenance. This can be seen from his articulation of such images of his homeland in the following poem …

 ‘Sentenced to Life’

And here are links to three more of Clive James’ Poems on this Site …

The Japanese Maple

The Divine Comedy and Heaven

Commentary on Australia Day

And I can thoroughly recommend reading his – ‘2006 -2014 Poetry Notebook

Les Murray: A Tribute

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)

A tribute from poet John Kinsella.

And Les Murray on Wikipedia.

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.