December 2020 – January 2021


by Les Murray

Newfound poems

Previously unpublished work from the giant of Australian poetry



As the bookshops die

in country towns

it’s department stores

that stock reader shelves


with detective fiction

with bisex romance

with veterans and war

with cookery and garden


and heaped gifts for children.

This is the culture:

no history but the Allied,

nothing strange. No poetry.


All’s preserved slow TV

selling no local memoirs,

no spirit, no religion,

no theory, little foreign


except tourist guides,

no languages at all

only ever middlebrow,

the culture of habitual





We only realise

how huge is the giraffe

when it is in towering flight

from the blackbeard lion

herding it towards its mate


and we see the lioness

erupt out of cover

to be shed, stomped,

rolled like a motor bike

under an express train.


We only realise how tough

the lioness is, limping off

unshattered as the mighty

galloper speeds on over

the desert horizon.

Les Murray

Les Murray was an award-winning Australian poet with more than 30 published collections of work, including Taller When ProneThe Biplane HousesWaiting for the Past and The Best 100 Poems of Les Murray. His work has been translated into ten foreign languages.

Cover of The Monthly Dec 2020 – Jan 2021
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From the front page

Image of former Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate speaking before a Senate inquiry today. Image via ABC News

Holgate strikes back

Scott Morrison humiliated the wrong woman

Up the river

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Green house effect

Joost Bakker’s vision for sustainable housing is taking root


Give us not serenity but a sense of urgency in the face of catastrophic climate change

In This Issue

Image of ‘Empire and the Making of Native Title’

Dividing the Tasman: ‘Empire and the Making of Native Title’

Historian Bain Attwood examines the different approaches to sovereignty in the New Zealand and Australian settlements

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Intimacy on set

Productions now hire advisers to help performers navigate intimate and violent scenes

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Shirley Hazzard’s wider world

The celebrated Australian author’s ‘Collected Stories’ sets private desperation in the cosmopolitan Europe she revered

Image of Oodgeroo Noonuccal at Sydney Town Hall, 1970

In times like these, what would Oodgeroo do?

On the influence of Aboriginal poet, activist and educator Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Read on


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Image of Cătălin Tolontan in Collective.

Bitter pill: ‘Collective’

This staggering documentary exposes institutionalised corruption in Romanian hospitals

All things considered: Emily Maguire’s ‘Love Objects’

The Australian writer’s latest novel portrays hoarding with an acute understanding of the deeply human desire to connect

Image of Antara by Betty Kuntiwa Pumani. © The artist, Mimili Maku and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne 2021

Held in common: ‘The National’ at the MCA

Foregrounding women’s practice, this exhibition of contemporary Australian art proposes a poetics of inclusion