The Poetry of Grace IV: Contemplative Experience Part 3

In this week’s session we looked first at Les Murray’s The Buladelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle“. If you click on the title you can read the whole poem right here! We explored the ways in which Les’ poem builds on the ” ‘WONGURI‐’MANDƷIKAI SONG CYCLE OF THE MOON‐BONE which we explored in last week’s session.  You can read the translator Ronald Berndt’s introduction to the Song Cycle by clicking her on the title itself.  Les Murray speaks at length about his poem and its links with the Aboriginal Song Cycle in his article “The Human-Hair Thread” published in Meanjin, 1977. There is a link to this whole article right here: Murray Hair Thread

This is a wonderful article that is still very current in its relevance to the Aboriginal situation today. Les talks about his long engagement with Aboriginal questions and about the many poems he has written directly about Aboriginality. It is certainly worth reading.

Here is Les at the Sydney Writer’s Festival:  LES

After our session on Les Murray we turned our attention to William Shakespeare, no less. In particular I was trying to explore the ways in which the bard is deeply committed to a contemplative approach to life and is very much open to the experience of Grace.

The talk, with comments from the floor, can be listened to here and this is followed by a link to the visual slides and video links used in this session and two extra texts used in the session:

Poetry and Grace IV session 3

Steindl-Rast and R.S. Thomas: Shakespeare

Here is also the first of a few additional contributions to our sessions from participants. Thank you again, Peter:


Peter Solway- Hey Man


Teacher talking, Shakespeare quoting

not merely a player, tackling big theme


Old pupil, bespectacled, retired from football

at that stage of the game, playing reflection’s recall


Welcome a nap in life’s classroom

angel with angled wing wall-hung


Ancient upholstery, firm plastic

wake the numb limb with pedestrian intent


Maree with bell & tea, room full of bat memories

leave half-time, bladder gone.


Loner- Rilke- bloke, casino broke

clap hands of nothing, rain-drops of luck!


Busker with tumour-ed nose, choirboy voice

fearless-fella, halo or not, knows working Grace.


Batman with joking plan, stencilled clan

umbrellas at the ready, all sent to televised-land


Red Sun Station, short story, sad aunties stolen maternity

back-in- Sydney, port Jackson town real busy, cat-of-nines


Cook & Co, dispossession ‘s cabin Captain then

Philip and canon, friend of redundant Bennelong, not for long…


Acknowledge elder’s property, vast serpent topography

Dreaming long-arm, arc of sun painting western sandstone


Paradise lost, platform found, honeyed-chicken underground

beneath the feasting high-rise mound!


All stations to Blakehurst, train-terminating

proclaim London William who died singing…long- gone


Songs not his own.

Going home, to better- kingdom- come, brother- meeting -man!


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