Belonging, Les Murray Poems

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The concept of belonging is interesting to me because the idea is really that of ‘self’. There are many varied notions of belonging revolving around the ‘inclusion/exclusion’ of a person in a societal group, ‘attraction/alienation’ to values, attitudes and behaviours, ‘security/marginalisation’.

But ultimately the idea of belonging is the development of our own sense of personal identity being defined by the groups, communities, lifestyles we align ourselves with.

Les Murray’s poems “The Widower in the Country” and “The Away-Bound Train” explore the sense of belonging by his speaker in different ways.

We experience through “The Widower in the Country” a loss of a sense of belonging caused by the death of the speaker’s wife. In “The Away-Bound Train” the speaker describes the rural landscape in his poetry, and his sense of belonging to it.

Les Murray in “The Widower in the Country” uses descriptive imagery and emotive language to highlight the loss of belonging.

The depression of the speaker by having no real direction in life is shown by the words “and pause to look across the Christmas paddocks”. He is delaying his duties as he is aimless. The reference to Christmas also illustrates widower being alone for a holiday previously celebrated with family.

The ellipses run after “The nettles in the yard…” showing there is further work to be done and the neglect of the speaker evidencing his absence of involvement.

The speaker sits alone “at the head of the table” eating a plain meal of “corned-beef supper” reinforces the widower’s absence and direction in life and also an inability to enunciate his emotions.

The speaker in “The Away-Bound Train” experiences a feeling of belonging to the country through the exploration of the landscape. The speaker is a man on a train leaving the countryside, which he loves, to travel to the city, which he despises.

At the start of the poem the speaker describes his ideal home in the country “I stand in

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