Ode to Friday: Murray

nolan

This is for spring and hail, that you may remember:
for a boy long ago, and a pony that could fly.

We had huddled together a long time in the shed
in the scent of vanished corn and wild bush birds,
and then the hammering faltered, and the torn
cobwebs ceased their quivering and hung still
from the nested rafters. We became uneasy
at the silence that grew about us, and came out.

The beaded violence had ceased. Fresh-minted hills
smoked, and the heavens swirled and blew away.
The paddocks were endless again, and all around
leaves lay beneath their trees, and cakes of moss.
Sheep trotted and propped, and shook out ice from their wool.
The hard blue highway that had carried us there
fumed as we crossed it, and the hail I scooped
from underfoot still bore the taste of sky
and hurt my teeth, and crackled as we walked.

This is for spring and hail, that you may remember
a boy long ago, and a pony that could fly.

With the creak and stop of a gate, we started to trespass:
my pony bent his head and drank up grass
while I ate ice, and wandered, and ate ice.
There was a peach tree growing wild by a bank
and under it and round, sweet dented fruit
weeping pale juice amongst hail-shotten leaves,
and this I picked up and ate till I was filled.

I sat on a log then, listening with my skin
to the secret feast of the sun, to the long wet worms
at work in the earth, and, deeper down, the stones
beneath the earth, uneasy that their sleep
should be troubled by dreams of water soaking down,
and I heard with my ears the creek on its bed of mould
moving and passing with a mothering sound.

This is for spring and hail, that you may remember
a boy long ago on a pony that could fly.

My pony came up then and stood by me,
waiting to be gone. The sky was now
spotless from dome to earth, and balanced there
on the cutting-edge of mountains. It was time
to leap to the saddle and go, a thunderbolt whirling
sheep and saplings behind, and the rearing fence
that we took at a bound, and the old, abandoned shed
forgotten behind, and the paddock forgotten behind.
Time to shatter the peace and lean into spring
as into a battering wind, and be rapidly gone.

~ From Spring Hail by Les Murray (Australian, 1938-  )

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Image: Desert Bird, 1948 by Sidney Nolan

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12 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Murray

  1. Marvelous poem and this led me to a search for the poet and just read a long Wikipedia entry. Whoever created the page for the poet saw both his incredible strengths (evident above) and weaknesses (unknown to me). Very interesting and love the image also. A good ode to Friday.

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    • I just read Wikipedia too. I think it’s a good representation of our nation’s feeling for Les Murray: grateful he exists and scared he might let us down. His feel for country is extraordinarily sensuous. I was also thinking of him when I wrote on your blog just before: though not a religious man that I know of, he dedicates his books to the “glory of God”.

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  2. Wonderfully evocative poem, with memorable lines: “while I ate ice, and wandered, and ate ice”; “Fresh-minted hills smoked, and the heavens swirled and blew away”. The painting is amazing, too. The bird looks almost like a clockwork creature.

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