Nicholas Murray has also shown himself to be a fine satirist, as his poem A Dog’s Brexit, showed so well. The Yellow Wheelbarrow is a full-length collection of work and includes work from previous pamphlets as well as new work. Murray the satirist is represented here with such poems as ‘We Must Avoid Cliché’, which, as you might imagine, does not avoid cliché, particularly where the ‘poe-biz’ is concerned.
"This long awaited first collection./Long-touted on Twitter by its friends,/its enemies not yet found, still to stir/from their long sleep of indifference."
What is present even in these lines whose purpose is, perhaps, ‘political’ with a small ‘p’, is the quiet rhythmic pulse with underpins all Murray’s poems.That assured rhythmic control is often allied with a closely observational sense in Murray’s writing. And the final effect of this combination is a warm lyrical quality to these texts. The poem, ‘Venus’ depicts the painting of a nude by Cranach the Elder in the painter’s studio, in the dead of winter, ‘where ice made dragons // on the window-pane / and lust froze up before the twist / of water left the opened tap.’ Murray’s deft imagination creates the strikingly visual image of the ice making ‘dragons’ on the window. Then he yokes the freezing of lust with the unfrozen water in the tap; and does so, in part, with that nice half-rhyme of ‘lust’ and ‘twist’.Perhaps Murray’s satire is a natural development of that other ability his poetry has, an ability to look at a scene and depict it with real emotional precision. In that way, Murray’s lyrics share the laser like focus of his satire. The emotional precision of Murray’s poems drive the quiet narrative that leads the poems. And in that precision there is a feeling of what might be right entwined with what might be possible, as in the poem ‘Island’, which is here quoted in full:Brendan’s monks have lit a firewhere gutted fish brown on whittled sticks,and God is thanked for the air of a small island.There is no hint of what’s to come:the slide of embers, the tilt and scatterwhen the whale lifts itself from seeming sleep.