Les Murray, one of Australia’s most prolific and celebrated poets, has died at the age of 80.
Murray published nearly 30 volumes of poetry throughout his lifetime , including his first book The Ilex Tree, his verse novel Fredy Neptune, and Waiting for the Past.
Murray grew up in poverty on his grandparents’ farm in Bunyah, NSW and moved back with his own family in 1985.
Affectionately known as The Bard of Bunyah, Murray was sometimes mentioned as a future Nobel Prize for Literature winner.
Recurrent themes in his work were the history and landscape of Australia, white settlers, indigenous life, family, and the rural landscape.
In 1997, Murray won the T.S Eliot Prize for outstanding poetry in 1997, among many other honors, including the Queen’s Gold Medal.
In addition to his many volumes of poetry, Murray was also called upon to write items of an upfront political nature, including the pledge for new citizens.
Murray later disavowed the new citizens’ pledge, saying his wording had been rejigged by bureaucrats.
Many admirers and friends of the poet have taken to twitter with tweets in honor of the late poet.
We have lost a giant of literature. A beautiful, humble, funny, courageous, generous and gentle titan of Australian letters. #lesmurray’s words were a gift to us all. If only he’d won the Nobel – the last accolade due to him. Vale my dear, dear friend
This poem by Les Murray has stuck with me for years, particularly this line. “People can’t say goodbye any more. They say last hellos’. So much so we used the sentiment in my own mother’s eulogy.
Sad to hear of Les Murray’s passing.
His poem ‘An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow’ is one of my favourite pieces of writing.
He was a gift.
Can’t walk through Martin Place without thinking of An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow by #LesMurray
RIP Les Murray. I’m not sure anyone has written as effortlessly or as elegantly.
Shaun Crowe’s other Tweets
“Back when God made me, I had no script. It was better.
For all the death, we also die unrehearsed.”
Les Murray, 1938-2019
Terribly sad to hear of Murray’s passing. A towering genius in every sense. Vale.
Former prime minister John Howard also enlisted Murray’s help in drafting a proposed preamble to the Constitution in the late 1990s, but it proved controversial and was sunk in the 1999 republican referendum.