In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson


Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

The Greenhouse VanityLes Murray
Vol. 11 No. 10 · 18 May 1989

The Greenhouse Vanity

Les Murray

159 words

Sea-perch over paddocks. Dunes. Salt light everywhere low down
just like the increasing gleam between Bass Strait islands
nine thousand years ago. In an offshore tidal town
the Folk Museum moans of a stormy night, and shrills:

You made the oceans rise! Rubbish, it was you!
The Pioneers Room and Recent Times are quarrelling.
By day the flannelled drone: up at daylight, lard and tea,
axe and crosscut till black dark, once I shot a ding-

o at the cradle, there at fifteen, the only white woman
ploughing by hand, parrot pie, we sewed our own music –
Recent Times blink and hum; one bends to B-cup a pair,
each point the rouge inside a kiss; one boosts the tape-deck

till coal conveyors rattle and mile-high smokestacks pant
Beige! beige! on every viewscreen. This should re-float your Hardships,
despoiler, black-shooter! – Nature’s caught up with you, Trendywank! –
So. We changed the weather. – Yep. Humans. We made and unmade the maps.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences