only the moon has never abandoned me
May 31, 2007 9:44 PM   Subscribe

Poems about moon. Know any good ones?

So. I'm looking for poems about moon. Particularly poems that worship and praise the moon. Particularly poems that sound suspiciously like prayers. Particularly poems for the full moon. Particularly poems that compare the moon to a goddess/woman. Songs would be acceptable but poems are preferred.
posted by nixerman to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is probably the best song that I know that praises the moon.
posted by j at 9:55 PM on May 31, 2007

Opening lines of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."
posted by mecran01 at 9:59 PM on May 31, 2007

Sylvia Plath wrote some poems with a female moon, like this one and this one.
posted by lemuria at 10:04 PM on May 31, 2007

Best answer: There's The Altar of Artemis (a moon goddess) by Aleister Crowley.



The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon
So powerful
I fell to the ground

Your love
has made me sure

I am ready to forsake
this worldly life
and surrender to the magnificence
of your Being

- Rumi -- Thanks Anna


0 Lady Moon, your horns point toward the east;
Shine, be increased:
0 Lady Moon, your horns point toward the west;
Wane, be at rest.

From Sing-Song by Christina Rossetti

Edgar Allen Poe's A Moon Poem.


Sonnet of the Moon
by Charles Best, 1608

Look how the pale Queen of the silent night
doth cause the ocean to attend upon her,
and he, as long as she is in sight,
with his full tide is ready here to honor;

But when the silver waggon of the Moon
is mounted up so high he cannot follow,
the sea calls home his crystal waves to morn,
and with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow.

So you that are sovereign of my heart
have all my joys attending on your will,
when you return, their tide my heart doth fill.
So as you come and as you depart,
joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.
posted by frobozz at 10:18 PM on May 31, 2007

Goodnight Moon
posted by tiamat at 10:22 PM on May 31, 2007

"To the Moon" by Shelley.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:36 PM on May 31, 2007

"Hymn to Diana"--Ben Jonson. Sounds pretty much like what you want, I think.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:37 PM on May 31, 2007

That's pretty much the whole theme of Graves' The White Goddess, though his own poetry doesn't quite work for me.
posted by Abiezer at 3:49 AM on June 1, 2007

Not really about the moon, but:

Though the purity
Of the moonlight has silenced
Both nightingale and
Cricket, the cuckoo alone
Sings all the white night.
- anonymous

This is not the moon,
Nor is this the spring
Of other springs,
And I alone
Am still the same.
- Ariwara No Narihira

From Rexroth's 100 Poems from the Japanese.
posted by DarkForest at 4:28 AM on June 1, 2007

the whole of the moon, by the waterboys?
posted by triv at 5:19 AM on June 1, 2007

Federico Garcia Lorca - Romance de la luna luna. But it's an evil temptress moon.
posted by footnote at 6:01 AM on June 1, 2007

In the opera "Rusalka", the title character sings the opera's most famous song, Rusalka's song to the moon. The opera is written in Russian, but the link gives an English translation; there are probably translated versions of the song out there somewhere.

In "The Mikado" (Gilbert & Sullivan), there's a fairly well-known song sung by a female character called "The Sun Whose Rays". The first verse is about the sun, the second about the moon.

This may not be exactly what you want, but it's interesting:
The sun, whose rays are all ablaze
  With ever-living glory,
Does not deny his majesty--
   He scorns to tell a story!
He don't exclaim, "I blush for shame,
   So kindly be indulgent."
But, fierce and bold, in fiery gold,
   He glories all effulgent!

I mean to rule the earth, as he the sky--
We really know our worth, the sun and I!

Observe his flame, that placid dame,
   The moon's Celestial Highness;
There's not a trace upon her face
   Of diffidence or shyness:
She borrows light that, through the night,
   Mankind may all acclaim her!
And, truth to tell, she lights up well,
   So I, for one, don't blame her!

Ah, pray make no mistake, we are not shy;
We're very wide awake, the moon and I!

posted by amtho at 6:38 AM on June 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all for all the great answers!
posted by nixerman at 6:44 AM on June 1, 2007

Look at a book of haikus. There's a rich history of "moon-viewing" poems; it's an entire subject in haiku. Poets have written all sorts of variations on seeing the moon's reflection in a tea cup, or walking under the light of the moon, etc.

Some from Basho:

the moon so pure
a wandering monk carries it
across the sand
the setting moon
the thing that remains
four corners of his desk
viewing the moon
no one at the party
has such a beautiful face
posted by lubujackson at 7:25 AM on June 1, 2007

Jack Kerouac, "The Moon"
The moon her magic be, big sad face
Of infinity. An illuminated clay ball
Manifesting many gentlemanly remarks

She kicks a star, clouds foregather
In Scimitar shape, to round her
Cradle out, upsidedown and old time

You can also let the moon fool you
With imaginary orange-balls
Of blazing imgainary light in fright

As eyeballs, hurt & foregathered,
Wink to the wince of the seeing
Of a little sprightly otay

Which projects spikes of light
Out the round smooth blue balloon
But full of mountains and moons

Deep as the ocean, high as the moon,
Low as the lowest river lagoon
Fish in the Tar and pull in the Spar

Billy the Bud and Hanshan Emperor
And all wall moongazers since
Daniel Machree, Yeats see

Gaze at the moon ocean marking
the face -

In some cases
The moon is you

In any case
The moon.
posted by nevercalm at 7:42 AM on June 1, 2007

To the Moon

Oh gracious moon, now as the year turns,
I remember how, heavy with sorrow,
I climbed this hill to gaze on you,
And then as now you hung above those trees
Illuminating all. But to my eyes
Your face seemed clouded, temulous
From the tears that rose beneath my lids,
So painful was my life: and is, my
Dearest moon; its tenor does not change.
And yet, memory and numbering the epochs
Of my grief is pleasing to me. How welcome
In that youthful time -when hope's span is long,
And memory short -is the remembrance even of
Past sad things whose pain endures.

Giacomo Leopardi
posted by Baldons at 7:46 AM on June 1, 2007

Probably the best known Chinese poem is Li Bo's 静夜思 ("Thoughts one still night")

窗前明月光 Moonlight by the window
疑是地上霜 I half thought it was frost on the ground.
举头望明月 I raise my head and look at the moon;
低头思古乡 Lower my head and think of home.

Li (and his contemporaries) wrote many poems featuring the moon; the poem Drinking Alone under the Moon on the Wiki page I linked above is a favourite. Via there, here's 32 English versions.
posted by Abiezer at 8:05 AM on June 1, 2007

Heh. So much for well-know and copying Chinese of Google results. First line should be:
床前明月光 Moonlight by my bed.
You can tell I haven't read that since college.
posted by Abiezer at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2007

The Moon by David Berman (of The Silver Jews)
posted by I Foody at 8:39 AM on June 1, 2007

'You will be eternally subject to the influence of my kiss. You will be beautiful in my manner. You will love what I love and who loves me: water, the clouds, silence, and the night; the immense, green sea; formless and multiform water; the place where you will not be; the lover you will not know; monstrous flowers; perfumes that make you delirious; cats who swoon on pianos, and who moan like women, with a hoarse, gentle voice!'

Baudelaire's prose poem, "The Favors of the Moon."
posted by steef at 8:50 AM on June 1, 2007

Not really one in worship or praise of the moon, but I can't resist adding one of my favorite poems, Das Mondschaf (English translation).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:17 AM on June 1, 2007

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies !
How silently, and with how wan a face !
What, may it be that even in heavenly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long with love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case;
I read it in thy looks; thy languisht grace
To me that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deemed there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be loved, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there, ungratefulness?

Philip Sidney, from Astrophel and Stella (1591)

on a related note . . .

Acquainted With the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
O luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost, from New Hampshire (1923)
posted by washburn at 10:08 AM on June 1, 2007

I have two poems for you -- neither one exactly moon-praising. But the first one (Sylvia Plath) does compare the moon to a woman (someone sleeping with her husband, actually), which is an interesting twist on the gentle-moon-goddess trope:

The Rival

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
Both of you are great light borrowers.
Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected,

And your first gift is making stone out of everything.
I wake to a mausoleum; you are here,
Ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking for cigarettes,
Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous,
And dying to say something unanswerable.

The moon, too, abuses her subjects,
But in the daytime she is ridiculous.
Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand,
Arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity,
White and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide.

No day is safe from news of you,
Walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.

And this one mostly because I like it but it also taps onto the full moon theme (sort of cheap, i know).

No one eats oranges
beneath the full moon.
One must eat
ice-cold green fruit.
When the moon rises
from a hundred identical faces,
the silver coin
sobs in the pocket.

-Frederico Lorca

Sorry it these aren't mooney enough...
posted by bluenausea at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2007

I take a bottle of wine and I go drink it among the flowers.
We are always three ... counting my shadow and my friend the shimmering moon
Happily the moon knows nothing of drinking, and my shadow is never thirsty
When I sing, the moon listens to me in silence. When I dance, my shadow dances too.
After all festivities the guests must depart. This sadness I do not know.
When I go home, the moon goes with me and my shadow follows me

Li Po - II bc

Translated by J.C. Cooper
Recited by Yeung Hak-Fun and Koon Fook Man
in Vangelis "The Little Fete" - Album "China"
posted by indigo4963 at 11:30 AM on June 1, 2007

Take a look at "Traveller's Prayer", as performed on John Renbourn's album of the same name. It has everything you're looking for. It was inspired by a piece in Alexander Carmichael's Carmina Gadelica, a collection of translated Gaelic song lyrics from rural peoples of Scotland. (Number 54, I think. No idea who did the poetry for "Traveller's Prayer".)

If the Christian imagery at the end bothers you, do what I do (I'm Jewish): leave off the last verse, replace the words "and keep Trinity" with "for eternity", and repeat the first verse so it isn't any shorter.
posted by gillyflower at 11:59 AM on June 1, 2007

as in many things, look to the mighty boosh for answers:
posted by thedaniel at 2:03 AM on June 4, 2007

"Suzanne" by William Carlos Williams:

Brother Paul! look!
—but he rushes to a different
The moon!

I heard shrieks and thought:
What's that?

That's just Suzanne
talking to the moon!
Pounding on the window
with both fists:

   Paul! Paul!

—and talking to the moon.
and pounding the glass
with both fists!

Brother Paul! the moon!
posted by amery at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2007

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