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Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia
Edited by Les Murray
ISBN: 978 1 857547 85 6
Categories: 19th Century, 20th Century, Australian
Published: June 2005
216 x 135 x 13 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
The first metropolis to be depicted in Australian literature was Hell: before cities existed in Australia, Francis McNamara, the convict poet, described the infernal one populated by those who tormented him and his fellow prisoners. Sentenced in 1832 to seven years' transportation to Australia for stealing a plaid, he survived the brutality of the penal system: his witty, rebellious poems laid the foundations for a new Australian poetry.
Les Murray's anthology of poets from the early years of European settlement in Australia reaches back in time from his Fivefathers, which collected significant voices from the early twentieth century. Hell and After contains extended selections from the work of four poets: reading them is to experience a culture in the process of creating itself. Francis MacNamara (1811-1880), the only poet whose work has survived from the convict era, and three poets from the second half of the nineteenth century. Mary Gilmore (1865-1962) was born to a pioneering life in the bush; she became a social reformer and renowned figure in the Australian Labor Party, and her poems are much loved by Australians for their vivid evocations of colonial life. John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942), who spent most of his life as a manual labourer, wrote poems of great lyricism and humour under conditions of poverty and ill-health. Lesbia Harford (1891-1927), a radical activist who was one of the first women to graduate with a law degree from the University of Melbourne, worked as a factory machinist and domestic servant. Her poems give voice to a woman's experience of working life and private desire.
Table of Contents
The Convict's Arrival
Labouring with the Hoe
A Petition from the A.A. Co. Flocks at Peels River in Behalf of the Irish Bard
[For the Company Underground]
A Petition from the Chain Gang at Newcastle to Captain Furlong the Superintendent
A Convict's Tour to Hell
A Dialogue Between Two Hibernians in Botany Bay
[Epigram of Introduction]
The Seizure of the Cyprus Brig in Recherche Bay, Aug. 1829
When Myall Creek Was New
I Am the Idle
Eva Has Gone
The Linen for Pillow...
The Rue Tree
In Poverty and Toil
The Truest Mate
The Forest Prayed
'As late as the 1870's...'
The Forest Prayed
Of Certain Critics
Never Admit the Pain
The Saturday Tub
Bones in a Poet
Old Botany Bay
'The kangaroos were patriarchal...'
The Little Shoes that Died
Somehow We Missed Each Other
In Wesleyan Days, Wagga Wagga
The Road to Gunning
John Shaw Neilson:
The Crane is My Neighbour
The Gentle Water Bird
To a Runaway Sound
For the Little Boys Out of Heavan
The Ballad of Remembrance
The Poor, Poor Country
The Lad Who Started Out
The Child Being There
Love in Absence
The Hour of the Parting
To a Lodging-House Canary
The Sweetening of the Year
The Soldier is Home
Tell Summer that I Died
The Hen in the Bushes
The Moon Was Seven Days Down
The Orange Tree
In the Dim Counties
You, and Yellow Air
Sheedy Was Dying
Song Be Delicate
The Prince Has Been into the Lane
The Happy Thief
From a Coffin
In the Long Gown
To a Blonde Typist
You Cannot Go Down to the Spring
Lament for Laddie
Take Down the Fiddle, Karl!
The Power of the Bells
To the Red Lory
Uncle to a Pirate
The Bard and the Lizard
The Eleventh Moon
Surely God Was a Lover
The Poor Can Feed the Birds
The Smoker Parrot
'I dreamt last night'
'If I had six white horses'
'I count the days until I see you, dear,'
'I can't feel the sunshine'
'My mission in the world'
'Ours was a friendship in secret, my dear,'
'Somebody brought in lilac'
Deliverance Through Art
The Folk I Love
'Oh, oh, Rosalie,'
'All day long'
Lawstudent and Coach
The Invisible People
Closing Time: Public Library
'This evening I'm alone.'
'I was sad'
'All through the day at my machine'
'Sometimes I wish that I were Helen-fair'
'Sometimes I am too tired'
'My lovely pixie, my good companion,'
'Into the old rhyme'
'The love I look for'
'He has a fairy wife.'
'Those must be masts of ships the gazer sees'
'I have golden shoes'
'Now I have been three days'
'I found an orchid in the valley fair,'
'I love to see'
'I'm like all lovers, wanting love to be'
'I used to be afraid to meet'
Body and Soul
A Blouse Machinist
'Once I thought my love was worth the name'
'Pink eucalyptus flowers'
'I came to live in Sophia Street'
'Today is rebels' day. And yet we work - '
'To look across at Moira gives me pleasure.'
'I dreamt last night of happy home-comings.'
'Sometimes I think the happiest of love's moments'
'The people have drunk the wine of peace'
'I must be dreaming through the days'
'When I get up to light the fire,'
'Today, in class,'
'I bought a red hat'
Miss Mary Fairfax
'Whenever I think of you, you are alone,'
A Strike Rhyme
'In this little school'
Street Scene - Little Lonsdale St
'I'd like to spend long hours at home'
'I had a lover who betrayed me'
'Most people have a way of making friends'
The Psychological Craze
'How funny it would be if dreamy I'
'Pat wasn't Pat last night at all.'
'A bunch of lilac and a storm of hail'
'O you, dear trees, you have learned so much of beauty,'
Pruning Flowering Gums
'Love is not love...'
The Moonlit Room
A Meaning Learnt
'When I am articled'
'When my lover put the sea between us'
'I read a statement in a newspaper'
'I am no mystic. All the ways of God'
A Prayer to Saint Rosa
Index of titles
Index of first lines
Awards won by Les Murray Short-listed, 2015 T. S. Eliot Prize (Waiting for the Past ) Long-listed, 1994 for the Oxford Chair of Poetry. Winner, 1996 T.S. Eliot Prize for the best collection. (Subhuman Redneck Poems) Winner, 1999 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Praise for Les Murray 'Very occasionally you come across something on the page which makes you think ''you can't do any better than this.'' Perfection achieved.'
BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review 'Waiting for the Past is a brilliant collection by a brilliant poet.'
Anthony Domestico, Commonweal Magazine 'Les Murray's Taller When Prone shows a poetic master nimbly and lyrically at work. Now seventy-two, Murray writes with the bigness of soul of a person twice his age. This collection adds another chuckie to the cairn of a remarkable personal achievement. A Nobel Prize for that man, please.'
Robert Crawford, TLS Books Of The Year 2010
'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.'
Derek Walcott, The New Republic '...the true spokesman of the whole nation, the custodian of its soul... the most accomplished poet in Australia today, and among the half dozen most successful poets in the English language...'
Peter Porter 'Les Murray is writing poetry with a lyric grandeur and verbal resourcefulness that are reassuring.'
Mark Strand 'Les Murray is a major Australian poet of our time, full stop.'
Douglas Dunn 'It is wonderfully disciplined writing, offering what poetry and nothing else can offer, an art that arrests one's otherwise ever frustrated sense of the richness of the life that lives only for the moment.'
C.K.Stead, London Review of Books 'Critics speak of him as one of the finest poets writing in English today, one of the superleague which includes Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott and Joseph Brodsky.'
Blake Morrison, Independent on Sunday
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