Canberra Day: Some Les Murray Words

It is Canberra Day today and a public holiday for Canberrans. And each autumn there is a balloon festival. The following is a sunrise photograph from Commonwealth Avenue Bridge looking towards the National Gallery and the Parliamentary lawns as the balloons start to lift in the early morning air.

Canberra Balloon Festival Autumn 2022

In a letter when feeling down and living in Canberra at the time (1962-65), Les Murray had these words to say about the Capital …

I’ve had a bad attack of the old tedium vitae lately. Can’t say why then one never can. It’ll pass. I need a tonic. Like escape from Canberra, which would, without the least fragment of a doubt, be the deadest, dullest, most worthless, ephemeral, baseless, pretentious, pathetic, artificial, over-planned shithouse of a town I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’d set it alight, some days, but I’m sure they’d merely put the fire out with dull, unimaginative efficiency and go on as before. Sod the place.

From an unpublished letter, LM to Greg O’Hara 7August 1963 … taken from ‘Les Murray: A Life In Progress‘ by Peter F. Alexander.

Canberra has grown into a truly magnificent vibrant city, far removed from that rampant LM rage that caused such toxic words to flow fifty years ago!

LM also wrote some short Canberra pieces (Rhymes for a Small Capital) … a couple of examples …

As I walked in Garema Place
I met a man with shining face
Who cried I am not in The Know!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
But Canberra's neither cold nor soulless
(except to those unsold, or coal-less)
she has her delights - I won't distort 'em -
wide embassies of Spring and Autumn

I’m glad to hear LM mentioned some positives! … Spring and Autumn are magic times of the year in Canberra, the Floriade Festival in Spring and the Autumn Balloon week make use of the excellent weather in these seasons.

Les Murray on Wikipedia

– he was arguably an Australian Defacto Poet Laureate.

Canberra as defined by Wikipedia