A Vivid Steady State: Les Murray and Australian Poetry

By Lawrence Bourke | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
"ALMOST A FATHER": MEN AND WOMEN IN THE VERNACULAR REPUBLIC

Can there be a bardic poetry, such as Les Murray's positions itself as being, with no human figures? Although his poetry is not without its human inhabitants, they are, more often than not, overshadowed by the animals and machines with whom they share the stage and even by the stage itself--the land. Indeed Les Murray has said that one reason why he prefers to write poetry above other literary forms is because in poetry the "rocks, the trees and the animals are as important as the human figures". ( PF161) As a Boeotian ideal in art he has offered what he calls a "dynamic tableau". ( PF 161) This is a place where all figures are part of an inter-acting creation, where there is no relegation due to perspective from foreground to background, where there is no heroic figure claiming centre- stage.

Murray's interest is not with the possible complexities of human subjectivity or interaction. This is partly explained by his personal background. In 1984 after receiving the Australian Literature Society's Gold Medal for The People's Otherworld, he remarked: "I'd never make a good novelist

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A Vivid Steady State: Les Murray and Australian Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Abbreviations *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Chapter 1 - The Forty Acres 1
  • Chapter 3 - Evading The Modernities? 36
  • Chapter 4 - The Animal Powers 54
  • Chapter 5 - "Our Sick Beloved Engine" Poetry To Absorb The Machine 74
  • Chapter 6 - "Almost A Father": Men And Women In The Vernacular Republic 100
  • Chapter 7 - "This Country Is My Mind": Landscape In The Vernacular Republic 119
  • Chapter 8 - "Rejoicing In Tongues" 139
  • Epilogue 157
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 164
  • Index 170
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