Friday, October 17, 2008

Poetry Friday: Les Murray, Playful Genius

In honor of Poetry Friday, I'm posting a poem by the Australian poet, Les Murray. I don't think there's anyone who surpasses him right now for rigorous play with sound. He uses form but makes it feel natural and smooth as silk. And the following poem simply has to be heard to be believed (and appreciated) so it's lucky that there is an audio link (click on the symbol at the end of the poem) at Les Murry's home page.

One of the things I try to teach my students is that you can't get very far with a poem if the subject has been done to death - fresh and new is a better place to start. Well, what bats say in "Bat English" is what I would call Fresh and New.

By the way: It's Les Murray's birthday today. Here's wishing him many happy returns of the day.

Bat's Ultrasound

Sleeping-bagged in a duplex wing
with fleas, in rock-cleft or building
radar bats are darkness in miniature,
their whole face one tufty crinkled ear
with weak eyes, fine teeth bared to sing.

Few are vampires. None flit through the mirror.
Where they flutter at evening's a queer
tonal hunting zone above highest C.
Insect prey at the peak of our hearing
drone re to their detailing tee:

ah, eyrie-ire; aero hour, eh?
O'er our ur-area (our era aye
ere your raw row) we air our array
err, yaw, row wry—aura our orrery,
our eerie ü our ray, our arrow.

A rare ear, our aery Yahweh.

Selected Poems, 1986
Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Becky over at Becky's Book Reviews

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