Learning Human Selected Poems

Les Murray

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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The contemporary Australian poet Les Murray is as admired and respected as any poet working today. Joseph Brodsky once called him "the one by whom the language lives." Harold Bloom has compared him to Walt Whitman, as well as to John Ashbery and A. R. Ammons, adding: "I can think of no [poet] of Murray's own generation who is his equal in range, intensity, and the absolute joy of being." This far-reaching yet accessible book includes the strongest verse from each of Murray's poetry collections so far—The Ilex Tree (1965), The Weatherboard Cathedral (1969), Poems Against Economics (1972), Lunch and Counter Lunch (1974), Ethnic Radio (1977), The People's Otherworld (1983), The Daylight Moon (1987), Dog Fox Field (1992), Translations from the Natural World (1992), and Subhuman Redneck Poems (1996)—along with a dozen new poems. With over 130 poems in all, Learning Human is the best opportunity yet for American readers to encounter the poetry of an eloquent, moving, and truly important writer.


Praise for Learning Human

"A terrific introduction to the terrific Australian poet."—Paul Muldoon, Times Literary Supplement

"With Whitmanesque verve, [Murray] shows himself to be a necessary poetic intelligence, one that has ventured far on the prow of his continent and made its language his own."—Albert Mobilio, The New York Times Book Review

"[Les Murray] can be considered—with Walcott, Brodsky, and Heaney—one of those 'international' . . . poets that have been at the center of English poetry in the last twenty years . . . He is a poet of great linguistic power and moral energy."—Adam Kirsh, The New Republic

"A poetry of dramatic human substance . . . [Murray] finds the world densely textured, ripe with significance. His landscapes are active places, hewn not only from natural material but from human presence, actual or presumed."—William Doreski, Harvard Review

"These poems, at their most serious, offer their own kind of fun: that of learning to see differently. Animals, insects, the weather, machines, all have stories that strive for a certain justice, unexamined because they're too large, too unsuccessful, too sick, too young, or too old . . . It is a poetry of noticing. And noticing is Murray's form of inhabitation . . . He sees individual wonder as a crucial attitude always gratefully gained and miserably lost."—Allan M. Jalon, San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Les Murray

  • The widely acclaimed Australian poet Les Murray lives and writes on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales, where he was born in 1938. His books include Dog Fox Field, Translations from the Natural World, Subhuman Redneck Poems, Fredy Neptune: A Novel in Verse, Learning Human: Selected Poems, Conscious and Verbal, and Poems the Size of Photographs. In 1998, Murray was awarded the Gold Medal for Poetry presented by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Les Murray Copyright Peter Solness
    Les Murray