Marginal Note

Poem By James Phillip McAuley

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;

Comments about Marginal Note

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.


Rating Card

2,6 out of 5
61 total ratings

Other poems of MCAULEY

Durer: Innsbruck, 1495

I had often, cowled in the slumbrous heavy air,
Closed my inanimate lids to find it real,
As I knew it would be, the colourful spires

Winter Morning

Spring stars glitter in the freezing sky,
Trees on watch are armoured with frost.
In the dark tarn of a mirror a face appears.

Magpie

The magpie's mood is never surly
every morning, wakening early,
he gargles music in his throat,

Iris

Not how you would be thought of, your color
Being grey, silky, like a second skin, your hair
Flecked with it. Now, hearing your way of saying
Iridescent while I read your poem, three years

Meanwhile, In Another Part Of The War

On the street of the concrete refugee tenements
That have collapsed into the smoking holes
The Israeli rockets blew open at dawn’s early light,
The sundered limbs and torsos of a Jenin family