“Prose isn’t here to stay”: The Poetry of Les Murray

Justin E. H. Smith in his own blog:

Around the same time English-language philosophers were debating whether or not you can know what it is like to be a bat (generally deciding that you can not), the Australian poet Les Murray was busy directly transcribing the thought-world of an imagined representative of this order. Here are the final six lines from his 1986 poem, “Bat's Ultrasound”:

ah, eyrie-ire; aero hour, eh?
O'er our ur-area (our era aye
ere your raw row) we air our array
err, yaw, row wry—aura our orrery,
our eerie ü our ray, our arrow.

A rare ear, our aery Yahweh.

Murray channels the inner language of other species as well. For instance, pigs, in his 1992 poem, “Pigs”:

Us shoved down the soft cement of rivers.
Us snored the earth hollow, filled farrow, grunted.
Never stopped growing. We sloughed, we soughed
and balked no weird till the high ridgebacks was us
with weight-buried hooves. Or bristly, with milk.

While the individual pig refers to the collectivity as 'us', Murray imagines that cattle conceptualize that same first-person plural as 'me'. This from “The Cows on Killing Day” of 1998:

The heifer human smells of needing the bull human
and is angry. All me look nervously at her
as she chases the dog me dream of horning dead: our enemy
of the light loose tongue. Me’d jam him in his squeals.
Me, facing every way, spreading out over feed.

The individual 'me' (to the extent that these can be individuated), the cow that narrates the poem, ends up slaughtered by a blade, and now sees the blood, or perhaps the guts, running out of her as 'me' too:

Looking back, the glistening leaf is still moving.
All of dry old me is crumpled, like the hills of feed,
and a slick me like a huge calf is coming out of me.
So, it turns out you can know what it is like to be a bat, or a pig, or a cow. As far as I am concerned, Murray proves as much: he offers a verisimilar report on the inner world of these animals. He does so 'shamanistically', to deploy one of his own key concepts. He moves himself poetically into a position of certainty, a position that overcomes the skeptical limitations of philosophers, which are, one now sees, the same limitations that constrain the philosophers to write in prose.
More here.