The Buladelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle:
Organizing Patterns and Organic Beauty

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The Buladelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle was one of the first works by Les Murray that achieved national acclaim. It is based on Australian Aboriginal patterns for poetry and also shares with the Aboriginal worldview a spirituality of place and time. It is set during the season leading up to Christmas, which in Australia is summer. Its 13 sections deal broadly with the following:
  1. The north country; its town people living in an era of rationalized farming; the return of families to old homesteads.
  2. The commute along the highway ("the Long Narrow City") and their return to the region.
  3. The snakes and ducks offer a "relearning [of] that country."
  4. The birds and their places; Deer's Hill.
  5. The distance between the Fathers and the young; the differences in their ways of approaching the world. (Murray's own relationship?)
  6. Holiday goings-on--barbecues, children, dogs, boats.
  7. Children or lovers among the corn at various times of day.
  8. Mosquitoes and their nesting.
  9. Aboriginal warriors and their attitudes towards the whites.
  10. The Ibis upon the wetlands
  11. Old fruit trees; mothers, memories.
  12. Heat and sun and summer storms.
  13. Constellations

Of course, this is to treat the delicacy of his observations with a sledgehammer. What is really going in is a sense of being within the life cycle of things, as a form of consciousness, but even better said, a sense of embodiment. Murray is offering us again an experience of grace. 


  • How would you characterize the style of this poem? Name some examples.
  • Compare and contrast the world of the old (those who have stayed) and the world of the young (those who have returned).
  • What is the relationship in the poem between humans and the rest of the world?
  • How do the Aboriginal peoples view the others?
  • How spatially and temporally does the poem place the narrative observer?
  • Why does he end the poem with the constellations?
  • Why is this poem beautiful? What does it reveal about human life and our place in the world?

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding