Poem introduction

'Bats' Ultrasound' was the ancestor of a whole sequence of poems of mine called Translations from the Natural World. Bats live in a world of radar beyond our hearing and I wanted to get a sense of that ultrasound so the last six lines of this poem are in English, but they're in bat English.

Bats' Ultrasound

Bats' Ultrasound

Sleeping-bagged in a duplex wing
with fleas, in rock-cleft or building
radar bats are darkness in miniature,
their whole face one tufty crinkled ear
with weak eyes, fine teeth bared to sing.

Few are vampires. None flit through the mirror.
Where they flutter at evening's a queer
tonal hunting zone above highest C.
Insect prey at the peak of our hearing
drone re to their detailing tee:

ah, eyrie-ire, aero hour, eh?
O'er our ur-area (our era aye
ere your raw row) we air our array,
err, yaw, row wry - aura our orrery,
our eerie ü our ray, our arrow.


from New Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2003), copyright © Les Murray 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Where next?

Recordings

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1The Sleepout

2The Pure Food Act

3An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

4The Powerline Incarnation

5Employment for the Castes in Abeyance

6The Future

7Midsummer Ice

8Time Travel

9Hearing Impairment

10Poetry and Religion

11The Tin Wash Dish

12High Sugar

13On Removing Spiderweb

14Bats' Ultrasound

15Mollusc

16It Allows A Portrait in Line Scan at Fifteen

17The Shield-Scales of Heraldry

18Tympan Alley

19Burning Want

20The Last Hellos

21Cotton Flannelette

22One Kneeling, One Looking Down

23The Margin of Difference

24The Harleys

25The Holy Show

26Music to Me is like Days

27Rodd Island Wedding

27Rodd Island Wedding

28In the Costume of Andalusia

29On the Borders

30The Annals of Sheer

31Ernest Hemingway and the Latest Quake

32The Images Alone

33The Tin Clothes

34The Moon Man

35Succour

36Predawn in Health

37Visitor

38Starry Night

39Jellyfish

40Lace Curtain

41A Countryman

42In a Time of Cuisine

43The Pay for Fosterage

44A Study of the Nude

45The Knockdown Question

46Pop Music

47The Body in Physics

48The Climax of Factory Farming

49The Poisons of Right and Left

50Apsley Falls

51Portrait of a Felspar-Coloured Cat

52Explaining a Cheese

53A Shrine House

54Experience

55The Meaning of Existence

Books by Les Murray