Les Murray is Australia's leading poet and one of the greatest contemporary poets writing in English. His work has been published in ten languages.

Les Murray has won many literary awards, including the Grace Leven Prize (1980 and 1990), the Petrarch Prize (1995), and the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize (1996). In 1999 he was awarded the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry on the recommendation of Ted Hughes.


Les Murray: A Life In Progress

Escape to the Outback: Poems


For an overview of Les Murray's work and significance from 1965-1994, please refer to that provided by The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature:

Les Murray Overview

A selection of Les Murray's poems short enough for comfortable on-sceen reading forms the heart of this site:

 Showcase of Shorter Poems

 Download Showcase (PDF)

A great many poems are also published online by the Australian Poetry Library:

Les Murray at the APL

Les Murray News

Waiting for the Past, Les Murray's latest collection, was published in March and April 2015 (Carcanet and Black Inc). Clive James found it to be "full of his characteristic joy at getting things made. Even when writing about tragedy and suffering he canít quite suppress the sheer thrill of hand-crafting the miracle." (The Quadrant). As the Autumn choice of the Poetry Book Society, Waiting for the Past was shortlisted for the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize.

Poems from Waiting for the Past

2015 also saw the publication of a substantial New Selected Poems, which includes some previously uncollected work (Farrar Straus Giroux). The selection On Bunyah, which also includes a number of photographs, was published earlier the same year in Australia (Black Inc) and in 2017 in the UK (Carcanet).

Les Murray's previous original collections were Taller When Prone (2010), winner of the John Bray Poetry Award, and The Biplane Houses (2006).

Poems from Taller When Prone

Poems from The Biplane Houses

An article on The Mitchells was published in The English Review in November 2006, accompanied by some recent remarks on the poem by Les Murray himself.

On The Mitchells


Waiting for the Past

New Selected Poems

On Bunyah

The New Collected Poems

New Collected Poems

The New Collected Poems were published in the UK in February 2004 by Carcanet. This follows the new Australian collected edition from Duffy and Snellgrove, published August 2002.

Table of Contents

The new editions include poems published between 1965 and 2002, adding Conscious and Verbal and Poems the Size of Photographs to the list of source titles. The Australian edition is particularly recommended, as it comes with a CD recording of Les Murray reading 55 of the poems.

Uncollected Poems


Poems & Paintings

The Full Dress was published in 2002: 'this book is an encounter between works of art held by the National Gallery of Australia and poems or parts of poems from my forty years of writing ... It's as if my life's work and I went on a meander through the gallery's spaces, speaking and listening to the art on display there.' (Les Murray)

More on The Full Dress

The Aboriginal Cricketer

Worker Knowledge

Other Sample Pages

The Aboriginal Cricketer

Worker Knowledge

New Translations

Übersetzungen aus der Natur

Les Murray's poetry has so far been published in over ten languages: French, German, Italian, Catalan, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Hindi, Russian and Dutch.

French Translations by Thierry Gillyboeuf

German Translations by Margitt Lehbert

Italian Translations by Mariadonata Villa



Les Murray: A Life in Progress by Peter Alexander was published in 2000 by the Oxford University Press. Over 3500 copies were sold in the first three days. The author has kindly given permission for three substantial extracts to appear on this site.

 Taree High (1955-56)

 Fredy Murray (1993-)

 Forgiving the Victim (1996-1998)

A good quality overview of the poet's life is also available.

 Brief Biography by Peter Alexander

In 2001 The National Portait Gallery, Canberra, acquired David Naseby's recent portrait of Les Murray:

 Portrait of Les Murray (1995)


Les Murray on his father's farm, Bunyah

Les Murray in 1962

Portrait of Les Murray, 1995

Hell and After

Hell and After


Hell and After (June 2005) is a prequel to Fivefathers, which features Australian poets active from the 1930s to the 1960s. This "volume of epitomes" features work by "four early English-language poets of Australia", reaching as far back to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Poems from Hell and After

Introduction to Hell and After

In addition to the general introduction by Les Murray (above) the book contains biographical introductions to each of the four poets.


Audio Recordings

During a visit to Sweden in 2007 Les Murray recorded Translations from Nature. The CD comprises 36 of the 40 poems from the 1992 sequence Presence: Translations From the Natural World and is available from Edition Rugerup and from Amazon.co.uk.

The Poetry Archive, a UK-based initiative headed by Andrew Motion, recorded Les Murray in 2001. The CD, available from the Poetry Bookshop, includes 55 poems, seven of which may be listened to free online: The Tin Wash Dish, Bats' Ultrasound, The Last Hellos, The Annals of Sheer, The Pay for Fosterage, The Climax of Factory Farming and The Meaning of Existence.

Listen to Les Murray Online: Audio Links


Translations from Nature CD

Learning Human

On Writing

Waiting for the Past

Les Murray on Writing Poetry

Les Murray delivered a lengthier discourse on poetry for the 1998 Rotterdam festival:

A Defence of Poetry


Poems the Size of Photographs

Poems the Size of Photographs, Les Murray's 2002 poetry volume, is published by Duffy and Snellgrove (Australia) and Carcanet (UK).

'A collection of brief, humourous and insightful poems ... An accessible and beautiful book' – The Poetry Book Society.

The Meaning of Existence

 Other Recent Poems


Selected Poems


Les Murray and Australian Poetry

Les Murray and Australian Poetry, a collection of essays, was published in 2002 by the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies of Kings College, London. This includes an essay by Les Murray entitled 'How Fred and I wrote Fredy Neptune'.

 Cover Notes & Extract


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