February is a short month, and so sadly I am having to speed up our journey through Les Murray’s poetry. My final poem for the month is an original work written in response to this interview with Murray from Image (Winter 2009-10) as well as Murray’s own description, in a personal letter, of his visit to a Lutheran church in Leipzig. My poem also draws on a number of Murray’s own poems. I’ll leave the eagle-eyed to find which ones, but the direct quotes from Murray are all in italics, to show they aren’t my own words. All in all, it’s a tribute to a man whose philosophy I do not wholly agree with yet always find compelling.
Sprawl: For Les Murray God, at the end of prose, somehow be our poem – (Les Murray, “You Find You Can Leave It All”) No pinched-arse Puritan, you could walk, I suppose, into the church in Leipzig with J.S. Bach thundering away, differing perhaps in dogma yet relishing the plenitude of song. What did you hear that day in St. Thomas’? Some mighty Cantata? The gospel set to words, to music, set to heart again? The world, you said once, reverberates with Muzak and Prozac. The mind craves some analgesic sound to cool the air; yet souls desire organs. Yours that day resounded with the thump and hum of what, when Reformations raged, was controversy: the heavens, all seemed to agree, will roar with voice and instrument, yet some still debate where earthly Temple-lines are drawn. Heaven invades earth as molecules of grace; yet to you the Presence has always been Real: enacted in bread passed hand to hand, and in sprawl of shirtsleeve nobility, giving with no thought of reprise, no heed of destiny. Whispered in poetic diction, felt, danced and dreamed, God breaks the banks of hearts sunk enough to receive Him, who enter church, not to proclaim what’s already known, but in desperate, grateful hopes of being wrong.