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Tuesday Poem: Les Murray - The Quality of Sprawl

Les Murray died yesterday, aged 80. He was an Australian poet with a global reach, a colossus - utterly original, profound and always humane.

Brought up on his grandparent's farm in Bunyah, New South Wales, he had a tough redneck childhood in a family with little money. An only child, solitary, overweight, and misunderstood, he was often thrashed by his father and bullied at school. When he was 12 his mother bled to death during a miscarriage.  As an adult, university educated, he struggled with depression, but his poetry earned every major award that could be given on both sides of the planet, including the TS Eliot prize and the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry.  My favourite poem of his is a wry look at Australian life called 'The Quality of Sprawl'.  It's quite long, but these are some of the verses that always makes me laugh, based on true stories.

Sprawl is the quality
of the man who cut down his Rolls-Royce
into a farm utility truck, and sprawl
is what the comp…

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