James Phillip McAuley

(12 October 1917 – 15 October 1976 / Lakemba, New South Wales)

Marginal Note


A ray of light, to an oblique observer,
Remains invisible in pure dry air;
But shone into a turbid element
It throws distracting side-gleams everywhere

And is diminished by what takes the eye.
So poetry that moves by chance collision
Scatters its brightness at each random mote
And mars the lucid order of its vision.

The purest meditation will appear
Faint or invisible to those who glance
Obliquely at its unreflected beam;

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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Comments about this poem (Marginal Note by James Phillip McAuley )

  • Rookie Yacov Mitchenko (12/12/2009 9:06:00 AM)

    This reminds me of a chapter in the Tao Te Ching. That which is deepest and most subtle is barely noticed, except by those who value the greatest things. This poem is excellent: there's concision, depth, and good flow. It is beautifully understated and meditative. (Report) Reply

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