An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow Poem by Les Murray

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

Rating: 3.7

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him.

The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile
and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk
and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets
which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:
There's a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

The man we surround, the man no one approaches
simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps
not like a child, not like the wind, like a man
and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even
sob very loudly - yet the dignity of his weeping

holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him
in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,
and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him
stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

Some will say, in the years to come, a halo
or force stood around him. There is no such thing.
Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him
but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,
the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children
and such as look out of Paradise come near him
and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops
his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit -
and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand
and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;
as many as follow her also receive it

and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more
refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,
but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,
the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out
of his writhen face and ordinary body

not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea -
and when he stops, he simply walks between us
mopping his face with the dignity of one
man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

T Art 22 October 2013

A moment of transcendence, the grace and dignity of weeping, a gift for those who will listen and receive, beauty through the veil.

8 5 Reply
Bhagavathi Sudarshan 18 August 2008

Nodoubt, Its a very fantastic poem. Its my all time favourite! Its so simple, ordinary, yet so profound. Long live Le murray, my sweetest poet. Love M. R. Bhagavathi Bangalore India

8 4 Reply
Alison Cassidy 22 October 2006

Ordinary words from a master wordsmith make extraordinary poetry. Bless you Les...

7 3 Reply
Briony Nicholls 09 July 2015

God bless Les Murray for his contribution to humanity!

5 5 Reply
GEOFFREY JAMES 24 February 2020

It's really the Second Coming.

0 0 Reply
Nike Ilupeju 28 January 2020

This is a beautiful poem. I love it

0 0 Reply
Sarah 23 June 2019

Thank you Les Murray. I keep coming back to this. So, so human.

0 0 Reply
Seema Jayaraman 18 November 2015

The ability to weep.. the strongest man too once he weeps thus his sorrow.. with calm and resolution restored can get back to his mundane chores.. lovely write.. thanks for sharing

6 3 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 18 November 2015

'They can't stop him'. Nice work.

4 4 Reply
Error Success