‘Dog, Fox, Field’ The History Lesson Behind Australian Poet Les Murray’s Powerful Poem on Disability

Australian poet Les Murray’s poem ‘Dog, Fox, Field’ revolves around the  confessions of those in the Nuremberg trials who stated that under Hitler’s regime,  the criteria applied for assessing the right to life of children and adults with disabilities had been based entirely on their ability to make a sentence using the three specific words, dog, fox, field.

Those who could not make a sentence using all three words became the first victims of the wave of eugenics that not long after swept through Germany creating the now infamous  death camps.  Here is the poem.

Dog Fox Field

These were no leaders, but they were first

into the dark on Dog Fox Field:

Anna who rocked her head, and Paul

who grew big and yet giggled small,

Irma who looked Chinese, and Hans

who knew his world as a fox knows a field.

Hunted with needles, exposed, unfed,

this time in their thousands they bore sad cuts

for having gazed, and shuffled, and failed

to field the lore of prey and hound

they then had to thump and cry in the vans

that ran while stopped in Dog Fox Field.

Our sentries, whose holocaust does not end,

they show us when we cross into Dog Fox Field.

 Les Murray

The knowledge that in a time of immense persecution it was the disabled who were the first to be targeted , provides me with several unwelcome, shocking and sobering thoughts.

Especially given the current attempts by global governments to cut funding and support to those with disabilities in our communities.

Isn’t it time our society recognized that in times of crisis, leaders have a proven propensity for first scapegoating those  who are defined as different, before they move on to everyone else?

Isn’t it time we took on board this painful history lesson and changed the way our governments are doing things?

Please don’t stand quietly by while my son and all those who stand along side him risk being forced  to cross  into this new economic version of  dog, fox, field.


8 thoughts on “‘Dog, Fox, Field’ The History Lesson Behind Australian Poet Les Murray’s Powerful Poem on Disability

  1. Wow….thank you for sharing this poem and for being a voice for those who understand the beauty of “dog, fox, field” far more than those of us who may be able to articulate the words in a string of meaningless syllables.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments E. I only wish I could be a louder voice for my son, his friends, classmates and all those who need so very much to be heard.

  2. Thank you for sharing this poem.. the thoughts of the death camps still make me shiver.

    May your voice to be heard, loud and clear.

    Ciao, Francina

  3. I join you in this plea to protect the autistic children of our world. My oldest niece is autistic; and so far, her rights are well-protected. This is an excellent poem about the horror of eugenics that took place in Hitler’s German. Thank you for your strong position on this issue.

    1. Thank you for appreciating my stance Granbee. Nothing can ever take away the horror of the past. We desperately need to Implement this lesson to avoid the same mistakes in the present. I’m so glad your niece has such wonderful support.

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