vrijdag 17 januari 2014

on a poem by Les Murray

It is the bookseller in his bookshop who points Les Murray. There, at the desktop in his bookshop, his face stired with the excitement of a pleasant breeze coming from too many pages to be read. Les Murray, he says.
No sir, I don't know any Les Murray. He points some heavy volume, takes it, lifts it from a wooden treshold. Les Murray, he says. It's a bilingue edition.
American? I try. No answer. He wouldn't know. No, he says. No American.
Anyway never heard of a Les Murray. An Irishman he is, I try. No, the bookseller says, reading the blurb, then diving inside the volume. Australian, he says.
Goddammit, never heard of any Australian named. What's his name again? Les Murray, he says. The bookseller points the cover. Les Murray. He hadn't heard of Murray himself. Dead or alive. Or both maybe?
I had one eye on a volume with Heaney, the other on a volume with Selected Poems and prose by Edward Thomas, a Penguin Classic, As featured in Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways, it reads. Now, speaking of Heaney, that's a true gent. I have a friend, the poet, he hadn't heard of Heaney but he read Digging aloud

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

and as he read it, with his bariton trained on immaculate madrigals and ancient trivials, Heaney's verse became round and deep as from steep desire each female navel. So take Heaney, Thomas on top and make it Murray.
Lads to make a living and its usual sins and simple needs more than the average of everything. Stepping from the bookshop with a red bag loaded with poetry,
curving the car on the lane towards the railway station, I opened the Murray thing. Read The Burning Truck at the traffic light, half a dream from what it read:

It began at dawn with fighter planes:

Governments, rules, traffic lights. A desire to control the reading. People ruin governments, governments ruin people. When all is ruined, both people and government disappear. Government disappears as it obviously has no people left to ruin. But it just as often can't. Desire took on my breath. Driving alongside the shook down crockery I don't take a look at the ruins. Praise the Lord. Breakfast served and rotten corpses.

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