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Translations from the Natural World: Poems Hardcover – April 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 67 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st American ed edition (April 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374278709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374278700
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,634,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Even with a score of volumes and a king's ransom of literary honors to his credit, Australian poet Murray refuses to take words for granted. His latest collection is a forceful blend of formalism and experimentation, a test of imagination, ear, and tongue for both poet and reader. Framed by several intricate but conventional genre poems (travel narrative, epithalamion) is a sequence of 40 lyrics delivered in the imagined inner voices of nonhuman beings, from pig ("Us snored the earth hollow, filled farrow, grunted") to DNA molecule ("I am the singular/ in free fall./ I and my doubles/carry it all"). Mixing the linguistic reach of Hopkins with the eerie solemnity of Ted Hughes, Murray demonstrates that while "Nothing is apart enough for language," nature can never seem more alien than when cast in human terms.
- Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Holland on February 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The 40 "translations" in this collection integrate a complex set of ideas about consciousness, language, God, and our relationship to the earth, in poems of great linguistic and formal inventiveness. The poems demonstrate why Joseph Brodskey said of Murray that "he is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives" and Jonathan Bate calls him "the major ecological poet writing in the English language." Murray's language is continually inventive, sometimes densely, almost irritatingly so. He uses forms from dramatic narratives to sonnets to free verse, weaving rhyme, meter, strange and convoluted syntactical constructions, sound, and inventive naming into poems that richly repay careful reading.
Murray "translates" into English the "language" of an amazing range of natural phenomena. The subjects are not just animals, although there are plenty of those; he also takes on plants, insects, reptiles, birds, mammals, cell DNA, evolution, the bole on a tree, and the migration of birds. To each one he brings a keen eye and a newness of language that makes each poem both a discovery and a lesson. The language becomes strange, even quirky at times, but the strangeness is necessary to shake preconceptions. For example, in the first poem in the group called "Eagle Pair," Murray shows us the world through the eyes of the birds:
We shell down on the sleeping branch. All night
the limitless Up digests its meats of light.
The circle-winged Egg then emerging from the long pink and brown
re-inverts life, and meats move or are still on the Down.
Right away, by using "shell" as a verb he's moved into a language of raptors. Eagles don't lie down, they hunch over with heads buried in wings, covered like the eggs they came from.
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