Learning Human

Selected Poems

Les Murray

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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A bighearted selection from the inimitable Australian poet's diverse ten-book body of work

Les Murray is one of the great poets of the English language, past, present, and future. Learning Human contains the poems he considers his best: 137 poems written since 1965, presented here in roughly chronological order, and including a dozen poems published for the first time in this book.

Murray has distinguished between what he calls the "Narrowspeak" of ordinary affairs, of money and social position, of interest and calculation, and the "Wholespeak" of life in its fullness, of real religion, and of poetry.

Poetry, he proposes, is the most human of activities, partaking of reason, the dream, and the dance all at once -- "the whole simultaneous gamut of reasoning, envisioning, feeling, and vibrating we go through when we are really taken up with some matter, and out of which we may act on it. We are not just thinking about whatever it may be, but savouring it and experiencing it and wrestling with it in the ghostly sympathy of our muscles. We are alive at full stretch towards it." He explains: "Poetry models the fullness of life, and also gives its objects presence. Like prayer, it pulls all the motions of our life and being into a concentrated true attentiveness to which God might speak."

The poems gathered here give us a poet who is altogether alive and at full stretch toward experience. Learning Human, an ideal introduction to Les Murray's poetry, suggests the variety, the intensity, and the generosity of this great poet's work so far.

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About the Author

Les Murray

Les Murray lives in rural Bunyah, New South Wales, where he was born in 1938. His books include Dog Fox Field (1992), Translations from the Natural World (1994), Subhuman Redneck Poems (1997), for which he was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize, and Fredy Neptune: A Novel in Verse (1999).

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Available Formats and Book Details

Learning Human
Selected Poems
Les Murray

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ALA Notable Books - Winner

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
March 2001
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780374527235
ISBN10: 0374527237
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 240 pages
$20.00

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
January 2000
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374260736
ISBN10: 0374260737
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 400 pages
$27.00
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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