The narrator was ridiculed during adolescence because he was fat and socially inept at school. He had one friend, Marion, "a slender girl who came up on holidays from the city / to my cousin's farm." He liked to show-off to others, but couldn't express his feelings, especially to Marion, who he only now realizes was "my first love." At the age of 19, during her nursing training, "she had a fatal accident / alone, at night, they said, with a lethal injection / and was spared from seeing what my school did to the world." [28 lines]


This poem expresses so well the feelings of a sensitive adolescent outcast (a poet, no less), who is attracted to a similarly alienated young woman. While he appears to have survived the terrors of adolescence, his friend did not. Her "fatal accident / alone, at night" sounds suspiciously like suicide.

Les Murray is probably Australia's most widely known poet, both at home and on the international scene. In 1998 the federal government commissioned him to write a new preamble to Australia's Constitution, one that would both articulate Australian values and celebrate the fact that Aboriginal people were the custodians of the continent before Europeans arrived.

The government rejected much of Murray's draft preamble, and he later dissociated himself from the project. Voters in a November 1999 referendum rejected a watered-down preamble that had been offered by the government.

Primary Source

Conscious and Verbal


Duffy & Snellgrove

Place Published

Sydney, Australia