'The sacred, as understood in the Christian religion and as reflected in work by poets of that persuasion, is manifested as a ‘presence’ which transcends our reality and which surpasses language. That this sacred presence can be conveyed and experienced through poetry relies on two assumptions: firstly, of God's real presence or ‘absent presence,’ and secondly, that the aesthetic is a means by which God's presence can be experienced.
The poetry of Les Murray reflects his exploration of the sacred within his Christian (more specifically Roman Catholic) tradition. In this task, metaphor is both the means by which he articulates the sacred, its elusive presence and absence, and the pathway that can lead the reader to encountering it. This navigation is a journey in which the poet must pass beyond and around the obstacles of language: the inherited established metaphors that bind the poet and his work to reality, handicapping the sacred experience; and language itself that weighs on us all, leading us to use words that are never quite our own, confining us to already-established and thus assumed ways of speaking and seeing the world. ' (Publication abstract)