Listening to Les Murray read the other evening in a half-empty village hall I was struck again by how skilfully he manages to perch such a large and generous vision on so slender a foundation of self-pity. Because self-pity really is there, at the taproot of his work, I think. His elegy for Joseph Brodsky, ‘Church’, begins:
The wish to be right
has decamped in large numbers
but some come to God
in hopes of being wrong.
We are always in the wrong before God, Kierkegaard wrote. After any triumph, he is ‘as usual inconsolable’,
Many of the poems spoke for Cecil and for
Here’s Alexander on Murray versus the Liberal Media Elite, a contest fought in a mood not unlike Homer Simpson’s when Moe tells him his it was ‘politics’ that ended his boxing career (‘Lousy Democrats’):
The ferocious, massed attack on her was a phenomenon he recognised from Taree High, and he would do his best to stand against it wherever it found a victim. He considered that Darville’s crime lay in showing up proponents of multiculturalism, and in ‘talking about dangerous material, the Holocaust and, more dangerous still, the immense slaughter, the killing fields, of the Communists—you're just not allowed to mention that stuff. The Communists have an enormous interest in suppressing all that history.’
Red-brown moral equivalence and all that, in other words, or not even equivalence: the red lot are obviously much worse. The victim here is Helen Darville/Demidenko, the recently outed hoaxer who had belied her Home Counties roots to publish a fairly iffy (anti-Semitic) novel about the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. Shortly afterwards the media moved on to Pauline Hanson, a pigshit-thick racist politician, but victim of media hounding and therefore in need of defending.
The foundations of
Filling in a form
the simple man asks him mother
Mum, what sex are we?
Country rather than city. A ‘simple man’, who you – you liberal bigot – are just waiting to insult, patronise or dump in a home. And a ‘simple man’ with a nice friendly old mum to look after him, and even save him from the hideous depredations of sex, which as we’ve already established ‘is a Nazi’. But a simple man who also has Les Murray on the case, checking for reds under the bed, taking on the no-good media, and selflessly taking the good fight to the fleshpots of Melbourne and Sydney on his behalf.
And my point in all this is: there’s something really nasty about