Monday, May 6, 2019

Les Murray*

Les Murray (1938—2019) is considered the leading Australian poet of his generation. His most-recent poetry collection, Waiting for the Past, won the Judith Wright Calanthe Award at the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards. This is just one more in a series of honours Les Murray has received, such as having Queen Elizabeth II present him with the Gold Medal for Poetry at Buckingham Palace in 1999. He died last Monday — April 29th — at age 80.

The late Derek Walcott once wrote of Murray’s poetry, “There is no poetry in the English language now so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and conversational.”

Murray is one of the poets featured in my anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry(available here) and through Amazon. He was very generous in helping me to obtain the various rights to use his poetry within various jurisdictions around the globe.

The following poem is from Waiting for the Past and first appeared in First Things.

Jesus Was A Healer

Jesus was a healer
never turned a patient down

never charged coin or conversion
started off with dust and spittle

then re-tuned lives to pattern
simply by his attention

often surprised himself a little
by his unbounded ability

Jesus was a healer
reattached his captor’s ear

opened senses, unjammed cripples
sent pigs to drown delirium

cured a shy tug at his hem
learned to transmit resurrection

could have stood more Thank You
for God’s sake, which was his own

Jesus was a healer
keep this quiet, he would mutter

to his learners. Copy me
and they did to a degree

still depicted on church walls
cure without treatment or rehearsals.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Les Murray: first post, second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.