Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership



Best Famous Les Murray Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Les Murray poems. This is a select list of the best famous Les Murray poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Les Murray poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Les Murray poems.

Search for the best famous Les Murray poems, articles about Les Murray poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Les Murray poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also: Best Member Poems

by Les Murray | |

The Mowed Hollow

 When yellow leaves the sky 
they pipe it to the houses 
to go on making red 
and warm and floral and brown 
but gradually people tire of it, 
return it inside metal, and go 
to be dark and breathe water colours.
Some yellow hangs on outside forlornly tethered to posts.
Cars chase their own supply.
When we went down the hollow under the stormcloud nations the light was generalised there from vague glass places in the trees and the colours were moist and zinc, submerged and weathered and lichen with black aisles and white poplar blues.
The only yellow at all was tight curls of fresh butter as served on stainless steel in a postwar cafe: cassia flowers, soft crystal with caraway-dipped tongues, butter mountains of cassia flowers on green, still dewed with water.


by Les Murray | |

Aurora Prone

 The lemon sunlight poured out far between things
inhabits a coolness.
Mosquitoes have subsided, flies are for later heat.
Every tree's an auburn giant with a dazzled face and the back of its head to an infinite dusk road.
Twilights broaden away from our feet too as rabbits bounce home up defiles in the grass.
Everything widens with distance, in this perspective.
The dog's paws, trotting, rotate his end of infinity and dam water feels a shiver few willow drapes share.
Bright leaks through their wigwam re-purple the skinny beans then rapidly the light tops treetops and is shortened into a day.
Everywhere stands pat beside its shadow for the great bald radiance never seen in dreams.


by Les Murray | |

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.


More great poems below...

by Les Murray | |

The Harleys

 Blats booted to blatant 
dubbing the avenue dire
with rubbings of Sveinn Forkbeard
leading a black squall of Harleys
with Moe Snow-Whitebeard and

Possum Brushbeard and their ladies
and, sphincter-lipped, gunning,
massed in leather muscle on a run,
on a roll, Santas from Hell
like a whole shoal leaning

wide wristed, their tautness stable
in fluency, fast streetscape dwindling,
all riding astride, on the outside
of sleek grunt vehicles, woman-clung,
forty years on from Marlon.


by Les Murray | |

The Butter Factory

 It was built of things that must not mix:
paint, cream, and water, fire and dusty oil.
You heard the water dreaming in its large kneed pipes, up from the weir.
And the cordwood our fathers cut for the furnace stood in walls like the sleeper-stacks of a continental railway.
The cream arrived in lorried tides; its procession crossed a platform of workers' stagecraft: Come here Friday-Legs! Or I'll feel your hernia-- Overalled in milk's colour, men moved the heart of milk, separated into thousands, along a roller track--Trucks? That one of mine, son, it pulls like a sixteen-year-old-- to the tester who broached the can lids, causing fat tears, who tasted, dipped and did his thin stoppered chemistry on our labour, as the empties chattered downstage and fumed.
Under the high roof, black-crusted and stainless steels were walled apart: black romped with leather belts but paddlewheels sailed the silvery vats where muscles of the one deep cream were exercised to a bullion to be blocked in paper.
And between waves of delivery the men trod on water, hosing the rainbows of a shift.
It was damp April even at Christmas round every margin of the factory.
Also it opened the mouth to see tackles on glibbed gravel, and the mossed char louvres of the ice-plant's timber tower streaming with heavy rain all day, above the droughty paddocks of the totem cows round whom our lives were dancing.


by Les Murray | |

To Fly In Just Your Suit

 Humans are flown, or fall;
humans can't fly.
We're down with the gravity-stemmers, rare, thick-boned, often basso.
Most animals above the tides are airborne.
Typically tuned keen, they throw the ground away with wire feet and swoop rings round it.
Magpies, listening askance for their food in and under lawn, strut so hair-trigger they almost dangle on earth, out of the air.
Nearly anything can make their tailcoats break into wings.


by Les Murray | |

On The Borders

 We're driving across tableland
somewhere in the world;
it is almost bare of trees.
Upland near void of features always moves me, but not to thought; it lets me rest from thinking.
I feel no need to interpret it as if it were art.
Too much of poetry is criticism now.
That hawk, clinging to the eaves of the wind, beating its third wing, its tail isn't mine to sell.
And here is more like the space that needs to exist aound an image.
This cloud-roof country reminds me of the character of people who first encountered roses in soap.


by Les Murray | |

Predawn In Health

 The stars are filtering through a tree
outside in the moon's silent era.
Reality is moving layer over layer like crystal spheres now called laws.
The future is right behind your head; just over all horizons is the past.
The soul sits looking at its offer.


by Les Murray | |

Bats Ultrasound

 Sleeping-bagged in a duplex wing
with fleas, in rock-cleft or building
radar bats are darkness in miniature,
their whole face one tufty crinkled ear 
with weak eyes, fine teeth bared to sing.
Few are vampires.
None flit through the mirror.
Where they flutter at evening's a queer tonal hunting zone above highest C.
Insect prey at the peak of our hearing drone re to their detailing tee: ah, eyrie-ire; aero hour, eh? O'er our ur-area (our era aye ere your raw row) we air our array err, yaw, row wry - aura our orrery, our eerie ü our ray, our arrow.
A rare ear, our aery Yahweh.


by Les Murray | |

The Images Alone

 Scarlet as the cloth draped over a sword,
white as steaming rice, blue as leschenaultia,
old curried towns, the frog in its green human skin;
a ploughman walking his furrow as if in irons, but
as at a whoop of young men running loose
in brick passages, there occurred the thought
like instant stitches all through crumpled silk:

as if he'd had to leap to catch the bullet.
A stench like hands out of the ground.
The willows had like beads in their hair, and Peenemünde, grunted the dentist's drill, Peenemünde! Fowls went on typing on every corn key, green kept crowding the pinks of the peach trees into the sky but used speech balloons were tacky in the river and waterbirds had liftoff as at a repeal of gravity.


by Les Murray | |

Cockspur Bush

 I am lived.
I am died.
I was two-leafed three times, and grazed, but then I was stemmed and multiplied, sharp-thorned and caned, nested and raised, earth-salt by sun-sugar.
I was innerly sung by thrushes who need fear no eyed skin thing.
Finched, ant-run, flowered, I am given the years in now fewer berries, now more of sling out over directions of luscious dung.
Of water crankshaft, of gases the gears my shape is cattle-pruned to a crown spread sprung above the starve-gut instinct to make prairies of everywhere.
My thorns are stuck with caries of mice and rank lizards by the butcher bird.
Inches in, baby seed-screamers get supplied.
I am lived and died in, vine woven, multiplied.


by Les Murray | |

Pigs

 Us all on sore cement was we.
Not warmed then with glares.
Not glutting mush under that pole the lightning's tied to.
No farrow-shit in milk to make us randy.
Us back in cool god-shit.
We ate crisp.
We nosed up good rank in the tunnelled bush.
Us all fuckers then.
And Big, huh? Tusked the balls-biting dog and gutsed him wet.
Us shoved down the soft cement of rivers.
Us snored the earth hollow, filled farrow, grunted.
Never stopped growing.
We sloughed, we soughed and balked no weird till the high ridgebacks was us with weight-buried hooves.
Or bristly, with milk.
Us never knowed like slitting nor hose-biff then.
Nor the terrible sheet-cutting screams up ahead.
The burnt water kicking.
This gone-already feeling here in no place with our heads on upside down.


by Les Murray | |

Late Summer Fires

 The paddocks shave black
with a foam of smoke that stays,
welling out of red-black wounds.
In the white of a drought this happens.
The hardcourt game.
Logs that fume are mostly cattle, inverted, stubby.
Tree stumps are kilns.
Walloped, wiped, hand-pumped, even this day rolls over, slowly.
At dusk, a family drives sheep out through the yellow of the Aboriginal flag.


by Les Murray | |

Amandas Painting

 In the painting, I'm seated in a shield,
coming home in it up a shadowy river.
It is a small metal boat lined in eggshell and my hands grip the gunwale rims.
I'm a composite bow, tensioning the whole boat, steering it with my gaze.
No oars, no engine, no sails.
I'm propelling the little craft with speech.
The faded rings around the loose bulk shirt are of five lines each, a musical lineation and the shirt is apple-red, soaking in salt birth-sheen more liquid than the river.
My cap is a teal mask pushed back so far that I can pretend it is headgear.
In the middle of the river are cobweb cassowary trees of the South Pacific, and on the far shore rise dark hills of the temperate zone.
To these, at this moment in the painting's growth, my course is slant but my eye is on them.
To relax, to speak European.


by Les Murray | |

Inside Ayers Rock

 Inside Ayers Rock is lit
with paired fluorescent lights
on steel pillars supporting the ceiling
of haze-blue marquee cloth
high above the non-slip pavers.
Curving around the cafeteria throughout vast inner space is a Milky way of plastic chairs in foursomes around tables all the way to the truck drivers' enclave.
Dusted coolabah trees grow to the ceiling, TVs talk in gassy colours, and round the walls are Outback shop fronts: the Beehive Bookshop for brochures, Casual Clobber, the bottled Country Kitchen and the sheet-iron Dreamtime Experience that is turned off at night.
A high bank of medal-ribbony lolly jars preside over island counters like opened crates, one labelled White Mugs, and covered with them.
A two-dimensional policeman discourages shoplifting of gifts and near the entrance, where you pay for fuel, there stands a tribal man in rib-paint and pubic tassel.
It is all gentle and kind.
In beyond the children's playworld there are fossils, like crumpled old drawings of creatures in rock.


by Les Murray | |

Towards The Imminent Days (Section 4)

 In my aunt's house, the milk jug's beaded crochet cover
tickles the ear.
We've eaten boiled things with butter.
Pie spiced like islands, dissolving in cream, is now dissolving in us.
We've reached the teapot of calm.
The table we sit at is fashioned of three immense beech boards out of England.
The minute widths of the year have been refined in the wood by daughters' daughters.
In the year of Nelson, I notice, the winter was mild.
But our talk is cattle and cricket.
My quiet uncle has spent the whole forenoon sailing a stump-ridden field of blady-grass and Pleistocene clay never ploughed since the world's beginning.
The Georgic furrow lengthens in ever more intimate country.
But we're talking bails, stray cattle, brands.
In the village of Merchandise Creek there's a post in a ruined blacksmith shop that bears a charred-in black-letter script of iron characters, hooks, bars, conjoined letters, a weird bush syllabary.
It is the language of property seared into skin but descends beyond speech into the muscles of cattle, the world of feed as it shimmers in cattle minds.
My uncle, nodding, identifies the owners (I gather M-bar was mourned by thousands of head).
It has its roots in meadows deeper than Gaelic, my uncle's knowledge.
Farmers longest in heaven share slyly with him in my aunt's grave mischievous smile that shines out of every object in my sight in these loved timber rooms at the threshold of grass.
The depth in this marriage will heal the twentieth century.


by Les Murray | |

Flowering Eucalypt In Autumn

 That slim creek out of the sky
the dried-blood western gum tree
is all stir in its high reaches:

its strung haze-blue foliage is dancing
points down in breezy mobs, swapping
pace and place in an all-over sway

retarded en masse by crimson blossom.
Bees still at work up there tack around their exploded furry likeness and the lawn underneath's a napped rug of eyelash drift, of blooms flared like a sneeze in a redhaired nostril, minute urns, pinch-sized rockets knocked down by winds, by night-creaking fig-squirting bats, or the daily parrot gang with green pocketknife wings.
Bristling food tough delicate raucous life, each flower comes as a spray in its own turned vase, a taut starbust, honeyed model of the tree's fragrance crisping in your head.
When the japanese plum tree was shedding in spring, we speculated there among the drizzling petals what kind of exquisitely precious artistic bloom might be gendered in a pure ethereal compost of petals potted as they fell.
From unpetalled gun-debris we know what is grown continually, a tower of fabulous swish tatters, a map hoisted upright, a crusted riverbed with up-country show towns.


by Les Murray | |

Comete

 Uphill in Melbourne on a beautiful day
a woman is walking ahead of her hair.
Like teak oiled soft to fracture and sway it hung to her heels and seconded her as a pencilled retinue, an unscrolling title to ploughland, edged with ripe rows of dress, a sheathed wing that couldn't fly her at all, only itself, loosely, and her spirits.
A largesse of life and self, brushed all calm and out, its abstracted attempts on her mouth weren't seen, not its showering, its tenting.
Just the detail that swam in its flow-lines, glossing about-- as she paced on, comet-like, face to the sun.


by Les Murray | |

On Home Beaches

 Back, in my fifties, fatter that I was then,
I step on the sand, belch down slight horror to walk
a wincing pit edge, waiting for the pistol shot
laughter.
Long greening waves cash themselves, foam change sliding into Ocean's pocket.
She turns: ridicule looks down, strappy, with faces averted, or is glare and families.
The great hawk of the beach is outstretched, point to point, quivering and hunting.
Cars are the stuff at its back.
You peer, at this age, but it's still there, ridicule, the pistol that kills women, that gets them killed, crippling men on the towel-spattered sand.
Equality is dressed, neatly, with mouth still shut.
Bared body is not equal ever.
Some are smiled to each other.
Many surf, swim, play ball: like that red boy, holding his wet T shirt off his breasts.


by Les Murray | |

Poetry And Religion

 Religions are poems.
They concert our daylight and dreaming mind, our emotions, instinct, breath and native gesture into the only whole thinking: poetry.
Nothing's said till it's dreamed out in words and nothing's true that figures in words only.
A poem, compared with an arrayed religion, may be like a soldier's one short marriage night to die and live by.
But that is a small religion.
Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition; like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that? You can't pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn; you can't poe one either.
It is the same mirror: mobile, glancing, we call it poetry, fixed centrally, we call it a religion, and God is the poetry caught in any religion, caught, not imprisoned.
Caught as in a mirror that he attracted, being in the world as poetry is in the poem, a law against its closure.
There'll always be religion around while there is poetry or a lack of it.
Both are given, and intermittent, as the action of those birds - crested pigeon, rosella parrot - who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.


by Les Murray | |

Shower

 From the metal poppy
this good blast of trance
arriving as shock, private cloudburst blazing down,
worst in a boarding-house greased tub, or a barrack with competitions,
best in a stall, this enveloping passion of Australians:
tropics that sweat for you, torrent that braces with its heat,
inflames you with its chill, action sauna, inverse bidet,
sleek vertical coruscating ghost of your inner river,
reminding all your fluids, streaming off your points, awakening
the tacky soap to blossom and ripe autumn, releasing the squeezed gardens,
smoky valet smoothing your impalpable overnight pyjamas off,
pillar you can step through, force-field absolving love's efforts,
nicest yard of the jogging track, speeding aeroplane minutely
steered with two controls, or trimmed with a knurled wheel.
Some people like to still this energy and lie in it, stirring circles with their pleasure in it, but my delight's that toga worn on either or both shoulders, fluted drapery, silk whispering to the tiles, with its spiralling, frothy hem continuous round the gurgle-hole' this ecstatic partner, dreamy to dance in slow embrace with after factory-floor rock, or even to meet as Lot's abstracted merciful wife on a rusty ship in dog latitudes, sweetest dressing of the day in the dusty bush, this persistent, time-capsule of unwinding, this nimble straight well-wisher.
Only in England is its name an unkind word; only in Europe is it enjoyed by telephone.


by Les Murray | |

Music To Me Is Like Days

 Once played to attentive faces 
music has broken its frame 
its bodice of always-weak laces 
the entirely promiscuous art 
pours out in public spaces 
accompanying everything, the selections 
of sex and war, the rejections.
To jeans-wearers in zipped sporrans it transmits an ideal body continuously as theirs age.
Warrens of plastic tiles and mesh throats dispense this aural money this sleek accountancy of notes deep feeling adrift from its feelers thought that means everything at once like a shrugging of cream shoulders like paintings hung on park mesh sonore doom soneer illy chesh they lost the off switch in my lifetime the world reverberates with Muzak and Prozac.
As it doesn't with poe-zac (I did meet a Miss Universe named Verstak).
Music to me is like days I rarely catch who composed them if one's sublime I think God my life-signs suspend.
I nod it's like both Stilton and cure from one harpsichord-hum: penicillium - then I miss the Köchel number.
I scarcely know whose performance of a limpid autumn noon is superior I gather timbre outranks rhumba.
I often can't tell days apart they are the consumers, not me in my head collectables decay I've half-heard every piece of music the glorious big one with voice the gleaming instrumental one, so choice the hypnotic one like weed-smoke at a party and the muscular one out of farty cars that goes Whudda Whudda Whudda like the compound oil heart of a warrior not of this planet.


by Les Murray | |

The Sleepout

 Childhood sleeps in a verandah room
in an iron bed close to the wall
where the winter over the railing 
swelled the blind on its timber boom

and splinters picked lint off warm linen
and the stars were out over the hill;
then one wall of the room was forest
and all things in there were to come.
Breathings climbed up on the verandah when dark cattle rubbed at the corner and sometimes dim towering rain stood for forest, and the dry cave hunched woollen.
Inside the forest was lamplit along tracks to a starry creek bed and beyond lay the never-fenced country, its full billabongs all surrounded by animals and birds, in loud crustings, and sometimes kept leaping up amongst them.
And out there, to kindle whenever dark found it, hung the daylight moon.


by Les Murray | |

The Meaning Of Existence

 Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time know nothing else.
They express it moment by moment as the universe.
Even this fool of a body lives it in part, and would have full dignity within it but for the ignorant freedom of my talking mind.


by Les Murray | |

A Retrospect Of Humidity

 All the air conditioners now slacken
their hummed carrier wave.
Once again we've served our three months with remissions in the steam and dry iron of this seaboard.
In jellied glare, through the nettle-rash season we've watched the sky's fermenting laundry portend downpours.
Some came, and steamed away, and we were clutched back into the rancid saline midnights of orifice weather, to damp grittiness and wiping off the air.
Metaphors slump irritably together in the muggy weeks.
Shark and jellyfish shallows become suburbs where you breathe a fat towel; babies burst like tomatoes with discomfort in the cotton-wrapped pointing street markets; the Lycra-bulging surf drips from non-swimmers miles from shore, and somehow includes soil.
Skins, touching, soak each other.
Skin touching any surface wets that and itself in a kind of mutual digestion.
Throbbing heads grow lianas of nonsense.
It's our annual visit to the latitudes of rice, kerosene and resignation, an averted, temporary visit unrelated, for most, to the attitudes of festive northbound jets gaining height - closer, for some few, to the memory of ulcers scraped with a tin spoon or sweated faces bowing before dry where the flesh is worn inside out, all the hunger-organs clutched in rank nylon, by those for whom exhaustion is spirit: an intrusive, heart-narrowing season at this far southern foot of the monsoon.
As the kleenex flower, the hibiscus drops its browning wads, we forget annually, as one forgets a sickness.
The stifling days will never come again, not now that we've seen the first sweater tugged down on the beauties of division and inside the rain's millions, a risen loaf of cat on a cool night verandah.