The chimes of neverwhere.


How many times did the Church prevent war?
Who knows? Those wars did not occur.

The neither state of Neverwhere
is hard to place as near or far
since all things that didn’t take place are there
and things that have lost the place they took:

Herr Hitler’s buildings, King James’ cigar,
the happiness of Armenia,
the Abelard children, the Manchus’ return
are there with the Pictish Grammar Book.

The girl who returned your dazzled look
and the mornings you might have woke to her
are your waterbed in Neverwhere.
There shine the dukes of Australia

and all the great poems that never were
quite written, and every balked invention.
There too are the Third AIF and its war
in which I and boys my age were killed

more pointlessly with each passing year,
but there too half the works of sainthood are,
the enslavements, tortures, rapes, despair
deflected by them from the actual

to rain on the human-sacrifice drum
which millions never have to hear
beating for them in Neverwhere.

-Les Murray

I discovered an earlier version of the poem online which speaks overtly of the Devil and of Christ’s love, but this is the one the poet chose to include in Selected Poems.

4 thoughts on “The chimes of neverwhere.

  1. Now who would ever have thought about this? But he did, and I’m glad. (Happy for the one you posted previously too!)

    And I’m glad that you read so much and so well, Gretchen. I do benefit from your reviews, excerpts, and selections. The visuals also; e.g. the icon here is so different from the ones I’ve seen at church. But I won’t forget it when next I’m there (tomorrow, I hope, and every day after)


    1. I searched for an icon of All Saints. Most of them are smaller and more localized, as in, All Saints of America, or All Saints of Russia, etc. I don’t know what this one is supposed to be, but it seemed to be The Most Saints in one icon 🙂

      In between handing out candy at the door tonight I was listening to Jonathan Pageau talk about the symbolism of Halloween and how the “holiday” used to be a three-day thing, with the deathly-ghoulish-scary part being only the first. Then followed a day to remember the dead, and another day of prayer, which he said is “the best way to deal with Halloween.” Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us!


  2. I’m not familiar with Murray but reading it reminded me of the WW I poets like Laurence Binyon who Ronald Blythe says is the poet of November. I always feel somber when reading his beautiful poems. Wish I understood your poem better but the first question reminded me of a Sunday school teacher I had as a young adult who had a list of times when God intervened in modern wars through either weather or something else.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.