Les Murray

(17 October 1938)

The Sleepout - Poem by Les Murray

Childhood sleeps in a verandah room
in an iron bed close to the wall
where the winter over the railing
swelled the blind on its timber boom

and splinters picked lint off warm linen
and the stars were out over the hill;
then one wall of the room was forest
and all things in there were to come.

Breathings climbed up on the verandah
when dark cattle rubbed at the corner
and sometimes dim towering rain stood
for forest, and the dry cave hunched woollen.

Inside the forest was lamplit
along tracks to a starry creek bed
and beyond lay the never-fenced country,
its full billabongs all surrounded

by animals and birds, in loud crustings,
and sometimes kept leaping up amongst them.
And out there, to kindle whenever
dark found it, hung the daylight moon.

Comments about The Sleepout by Les Murray

  • Michael Walker (7/31/2019 7:23:00 PM)

    I can't make much of 'Childhood sleeps'. Why not, ' the child sleeps'. Use of the Australian word, 'billabong' is effective, but the poem as a whole just rambles without anything memorable in it, as far as I can see. (Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: sometimes, childhood, winter, dark, rain, moon, animal, star, sleep

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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