James McAuley AM [1917-76] was born in Lakemba, NSW, and was educated at the University of Sydney, graduating with an MA in 1940. At University he was an outstanding intellectual figure, distinguishing himself as a conversationalist, poet, jazz pianist, drinker and bohemian. Drafted into the army in 1942, he was appointed to the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs convened by Alf Conlon. In this position he instructed members of the Australian New Guinea Administration Unit.
From this time, McAuley maintained a great interest in Papua New Guinea, and was a lecturer at ASOPA from 1946-60. His essays on PNG, published in the journal South Pacific, were acclaimed. McAuley became editor of Quadrant in 1956 and was named reader in poetry at the University of Tasmania in 1961, prior to becoming professor of English. He died after a lingering illness at the age of 59.The James McAuley Lecture is delivered annually in his honour at the University of Tasmania.
By James McAuley
The magpie's mood is never surly
every morning, wakening early,
he gargles music in his throat,
the liquid squabble of his throat.
Its silver stridencies of sound,
the bright confusions and the round
bell-cadences are pealed
over the frosty, half-ploughed field.
Then swooping down self confidently
from the fence-post or the tree,
he swaggers in pied feather coat,
and slips the fat worms down his throat.
[Sources: Oldpoetry.com and The-rathouse.com]