Dog Fox Field: Poems

Les A. Murray, Author
Les A. Murray, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $19 (0p) ISBN 978-0-374-14314-5
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More than 70 poems by the Australian writer ( The Daylight Moon and Other Poems ) offer everything from eloquent natural description to political satire. Murray's rhyming poetry rests solidly in the English tradition. Sometimes it is effective, but he is not a master of verse, and too often veers toward doggerel: ``I think of the heart swarmed round by poems / like an egg beseiged by chromosomes.'' Poems less bound by form and meter are often the best. ``Feb,'' for example, contains some of Murray's most pungent descriptions: ``Weedy drymouth Feb, first cousin of scorched creek stones, / of barbed wire across gaunt gullies, bringer of soldered / death-freckles to the backs of farmers' hands.'' Other memorable poems here include ``The Cows on Killing Day,'' written from the animals' point of view, and ``The Emerald Dove,'' a swirling, Hopkinsian poem about a dove chased by a hawk into the poet's house. But the book would have benefited from further editing, which might have eliminated the weaker poems and shown Murray at his very best. (Jan.)
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