Trafficking in the Unsaid. “The Owner of My Face: New and Selected Poems” by Rodney Hall and “Collected Poems” by Les Murray [Review]
Poetry is a likening, even when no metaphor is being deployed, no simile adduced. It knows that it is a miming, and, as often as not, is trying to find out what is being mimed. Murray and Hall are alike in their having copiously stocked memories and vaults of information, which they can be prodigal in displaying. But along with what might be called epic fervours there are lyric austerities — and a readiness to see what understatement can do, even in the midst of abundance. If Murray’s attention is solicited by that solar wind, he knows, too, what it is to be in disdain of all theatrics: if Hall notes the exotic growths, he is also himself a sentinel of cold death. Both of them know that, however precise and abundant the run of language may be, a poet is always trafficking besides in the unsaid, if not the unsayable.