M Matt Melone

Light Refraction by Matt Melone

‘Light Refraction’ by Matt Melone outlines humanity’s unending quest to understand the world. Using memorable images of light and science, the poet describes the future and the past.

Light Refraction by Matt Melone Visual Representation

The poem is filled with allusions to scientific advances, secular and spiritual ways of understanding the world, and an optimistic tone that encourages seeking and exploration. Melone engages with numerous literary devices throughout while also allowing the reader more than enough room to interpret images in different ways through different lenses. ‘Light Refraction’ concludes with a refreshingly hopeful image of humankind’s search for knowledge.

Light Refraction 
Matt Melone

Collecting refracted light, we probe the far beyond
Telescopes peer the infinite distances beyond our orb
Polishing reflective mirrors, focusing faceted prisms
Apprehension and excitement, mysteries revealed in time
Knowledge is the first step on the path of enlightenment

Gathering the light, we must gaze into our speckled past
Distance spans epochs of space and time in reverse
Triumphant success and tragic error, beauty with pain
The further we look, the marching eons merely reveal
History only, unable to unveil what our future holds

Focusing the light, we are invited to look deep within
Microscopes expose clearly what our cloudy eyes obscure
Atoms, electrons, photons, bosons, and particle beams
Invisible with naked eye, following hidden rules and laws
Our quest for the elusive unified theory of everything

Magnifying the light, we behold our humble place
Sapient ancestors bravely struck matches in the dark
Seek the sage voices in humanity’s hallowed halls
Take up the torch, carrying the flame boldly forward
Stepping stones illumine, follow only those spiraling up

Discerning the light, we are making essential choices
Refracting both aspects, single particles and flowing waves
Ignorance falls away as dark matter slips from sight
Super massive black holes, spectral light cannot escape
The event horizon always brims with blinding brilliance

Inviting the light, we endeavor to reflect radiant virtues
All things wise have already been written and recorded
Summoning sacred scrolls, striving to make them our own
Truth, compassion, forgiveness, redemption, and service
Forever the enlightened path, the eternal echo from the void
Light Refraction by Matt Melone


Summary

‘Light Refraction’ by Matt Melone is a thoughtful poem about humanity’s quest to understand the physical world and determine a path through life.

The poem takes the reader through six stanzas that use interesting examples of imagery to describe what it’s like looking into the universe, seeing the deep past and the more recent past, and using it to inform one’s choices. The speaker alludes to the quest for a theory of everything as well as a desire inherent to humanity to find a purpose to life and a good way of living it. The poem concludes on a hopeful note, with the speaker suggesting that humanity is walking on a hallowed path, one trod by many before. It’s headed towards the light and towards a hopeful future.

Themes 

Throughout ‘Light Refraction,’ Melone engages with themes of the future, the past, and the nature of humanity. The speaker spends the lines using light and science-related language in order to paint a picture of what the search for knowledge, spiritual and secular, is like. He uses a telescope and microscope to examine the world, breaking it down into its smallest pieces and its broadest and most important elements. 

Structure and Form

‘Light Refraction’ by Matt Melone is a six-stanza poem that is divided into sets of five lines, known as quintains. These quintains are written in free verse. This means that the lines do not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The lines are all around the same length, ranging from around twelve to fifteen syllables. Their visual similarity gives the poem an immediate feeling of unity, something that’s beneficial for the reader’s overall experience. 

Literary Devices 

Throughout ‘Light Refractions,’ Melone uses several literary devices. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Caesura: a pause in the middle of a line of verse. This is created through the use of punctuation or meter. For example, “Magnifying the light, we behold our humble place.”
  • Imagery: occurs when the poet uses particularly interesting and effective descriptions. For example, “Microscopes expose clearly what our cloudy eyes obscure” and “Super massive black holes, spectral light cannot escape.” 
  • Personification: can be seen when the poet imbues something non-human with human characteristics. For example, “the marching eons” in stanza two.
  • Parallelism: occurs when the poet repeats the same structure in multiple lines. In this case, the first line of every stanza starts with two words followed by “light.” The first stanza begins, “Collecting refracted light,” the second starts with: “Gathering the light,” and so on.


Detailed Analysis 

Stanza One

Collecting refracted light, we probe the far beyond 

Telescopes peer the infinite distances beyond our orb 

Polishing reflective mirrors, focusing faceted prisms 

Apprehension and excitement, mysteries revealed in time 

Knowledge is the first step on the path of enlightenment 

In the first lines of ‘Light Refraction,’ the speaker begins by noting how “we,” humankind, gather light and probe into the distances through a telescope. Using refracted light, the device allows us to look into “distances beyond” the Earth. The insights we gain from these explorations are at once exciting and fearful. There is some apprehension in our exploration due to the number of unknowns we may encounter. 

Readers should note the use of repetition in this stanza, like those which follow. The speaker returns to the same images of light, darkness, mystery, and exploration. He uses words like “beyond” more than once. 

Stanza Two

Gathering the light, we must gaze into our speckled past 

Distance spans epochs of space and time in reverse 

Triumphant success and tragic error, beauty with pain 

The further we look, the marching eons merely reveal 

History only, unable to unveil what our future holds 

In the second stanza, the speaker goes on, adding that through this gathering of light, “we” are able to explore the universe as well as learn something about ourselves. “We” are able to see our past, with the future remaining a mystery that even the greatest advances of science can’t uncover. 

The speaker makes a point to combine the scientific with the emotional and personal in these lines, as well as those which follow. He’s speaking about the universe as a whole as well as one’s personal experience in the world. These images of light and history speak to one’s experience within the universe as well as how it physically came together. 

Stanza Three

Focusing the light, we are invited to look deep within 

Microscopes expose clearly what our cloudy eyes obscure 

Atoms, electrons, photons, bosons, and particle beams 

Invisible with naked eye, following hidden rules and laws 

Our quest for the elusive unified theory of everything 

In the third stanza of ‘Light Refraction,’ the speaker describes how focused light, as channeled by microscopes, allows us to see clearly that which our flawed human eyes obscure. The truth of existence is broken down into electrons, photons, and more. These all play a part in uncovering a “theory of everything.” This is an allusion to a singular, all-encompassing theory of physics that explains all elements of the universe. Proposed theories include M-theory and String theory. 

Stanza Four 

Magnifying the light, we behold our humble place 

Sapient ancestors bravely struck matches in the dark 

Seek the sage voices in humanity’s hallowed halls
Take up the torch, carrying the flame boldly forward 

Stepping stones illumine, follow only those spiraling up 

The fourth stanza returns to images of humanity, suggesting that this quest to find a theory of everything is all in order to figure out what our humble place on earth is all about. The speaker refers to “Sapient ancestors” who first invented fire and the broader history of humanity that we are all a part of. 

As we investigate the history, we become a part of that legacy of men and women who “carry…the flame boldly forward.” We’re on a path made of metaphorical stepping stones that leads into the future. 

Stanzas Five and Six

Discerning the light, we are making essential choices 

Refracting both aspects, single particles and flowing waves 

Ignorance falls away as dark matter slips from sight 

Super massive black holes, spectral light cannot escape 

The event horizon always brims with blinding brilliance 

Inviting the light, we endeavor to reflect radiant virtues

All things wise have already been written and recorded 

Summoning sacred scrolls, striving to make them our own 

Truth, compassion, forgiveness, redemption, and service 

Forever the enlightened path, the eternal echo from the void

In the fifth stanza, the speaker uses more light-related language to depict how humanity makes decisions and move towards a future the speaker appears to see as bright and hopeful.

The “echo from the void” ends the poem on a thoughtful note. The speaker acknowledges how it seems as though every “wise” thing has already been written and that we, as human beings, are constantly looking for some way to “make them our own.” As we walk into the future, “truth, compassion, forgiveness, redemption, and service” are on our minds. This optimistic version of the future ends the poem with a hopeful tone. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this piece should also consider reading some other Matt Melone poems. For example: 

  • Spring Morning– a peaceful poem that asks the reader to carefully observe and appreciate their surroundings. 
  • Mosaic’ –  explores themes of equality, peace, and the future.
  • A Mother’s Legacy’ – describes the influence the speaker’s mother had on his youth, and since her passing, on his adulthood. 

Discover the Essential Secrets

of Poetry

Sign up to unveil the best kept secrets in poetry,

brought to you by the experts

Light Refraction by Matt Melone Visual Representation
Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry, straight to your inbox

Start Your Perfect Poetry Journey

The Best-Kept Secrets of Poetry

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry ever straight to your inbox

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap