Australia's unofficial Poet Laureate, Les Murray, has died, leaving a legacy recognised around the world.
Leslie Allan Murray, known as the Bush Bard of Bunyah, died in Taree on the NSW mid north coast on Monday, aged 80.
He is one of the nation's most celebrated poets, winning many international literary awards including the Petrarch Prize and the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize.
In 1999 he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Michael Duffy from independent book publisher Duffy and Snellgrove described Mr Murray as extraordinary.
"Les Murray was the most extraordinary person I ever met. He made Australia bigger," Mr Duffy told AAP in a statement on Monday.
Mr Murray was born in Nabiac on the state's mid north coast and grew up in poverty on a hard scrabble dairy farm in Bunyah. His time in the Australian bush and Bunyah specifically featured prominently in his poetry.
His mother died from an ectopic pregnancy when he was 12.
According to The Steel, one of his angriest and most moving poems, her death may have been avoided if the local doctor hadn't initially refused to authorise an ambulance.
Despite an interrupted schooling, he made it to Sydney University where he didn't quite finish a degree. He dropped out for a time with a nervous breakdown. He hung out with other future writers like Geoffrey Lehmann and Clive James, wrote poetry and read voraciously.
He was also a natural linguist, which enabled him to get a job as a translator at the Australian National University.
In 1962 he married Valerie Morelli, becoming a Catholic in the process. They had five children.
Mr Murray published his first book of poetry, which was a joint collection with Mr Lehmann, in 1965.
He took his family to Britain and Europe in 1967 for two years and on his return to Sydney finally completed his arts degree while having his first sole-authored collection, The Weatherboard Cathedral, published.
Mr Murray was editor of Poetry Australia from 1973 until 1980.
Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield described Mr Murray as Australia's "greatest poet".
"Australia, and the world, has lost a rare individual," Senator Fifield said in a statement on Monday night.
Tributes have been flowing for the literary giant on social media.
"Les Murray: one of the last of the great 20th century poets, perhaps the last, who both became a symbol of their nation and , through the force of their words, were able to transcend mere nationhood," UK poet Andrew McMillan posted on Twitter.
"We have lost a giant of literature. A beautiful, humble, funny, courageous, generous and gentle titan of Australian letters. (hashtag)lesmurray's words were a gift to us all. If only he'd won the Nobel - the last accolade due to him. Vale my dear, dear friend," Australian author Nikki Gemmell posted.
"Sad to hear of the death of Les Murray - he was a great larrikin with an extraordinary talent for word-play," David Alexander, former senior advisor to treasurer Peter Costello posted.
Australian Associated Press
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