For appreciating Les Murray's An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

Text of poem, some commentary and bio data. plain text version

This 1969 poem, published in Learning Human: Selected Poems 1998, is considered by many as the best crafted and most typical of Les Murray's work. It has achieved a considerable profile in the landscape of Australian poetry studied overseas.

Saints prayed for the gift of tears so they could more palpably join with Our Lord in his passion. as if to feel some of the suffering with him. This identification with the suffering Christ may seem a long way from service of the poor in our eyes, but as a spirituality focuses on the person and the humanity of Christ, a person might be led to express his or her compassion for and empathy with the Lord just as those who suffered the periodic bleeding of stigmata did. The tears of this man weeping in Martin Place are cleansing tears, not tears of regret or despair. Only tears such as these can break the drought of self-sufficiency. These tears bring healing, they are tears that bring a reconciliation so that with the dignity of one who has wept the man got up and walked off down Pitt street, renewed, done with it and ready for life. Tears then are regenerative, transformative if you like to enable us to get on with the next stage. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet. Is this man weeping in Martin Place some kind of a prophet, an absolutely ordinary kind of prophet somehow?

By Greg Smith
1st September 2002.
Activities in response:
1. Comment on this footnote:
"Readers are put at a similar disadvantage vis a vis the Weeping Man of Murray's well known
"Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow"."
2. Compare and contrast it with other Murray poems: Index of murray poems.
3. Click to the Reading 1 section where Murray writes on religion as necessary basis for society.
4. Reflect on and relate to this poem from this observation:
"The people that Christ was blessing were those whose grief was public. Without mourning, we can not be spirituality or emotionally healthy. This blessing was and is a call to allowing ourselves to be honest with others about our sense of pain and loss."


5. Research this gift of tears. How can they be cleansing?
I've the gift of tears
the cleansing gift
that wastes my fears
Washes my sadness
Keeps my soul new
And free of the tears
Imprisoning you...
The hurt can be huge
But if you are not dead
Stand up to the hurt
Feel your pain
Then bask in the lightness
That follows the rain.
 © Barbara Bales 2000-2002 all rights reserved

Greg Smith Sept 1. 2002 As usual, no responsibility can be taken by this site for material accessed through it.