Poem Review: The Moon

I had started reviewing poetry about the ‘night’, and I stumbled upon quite a few. So, instead of one mega review and having to wait for the ‘poet’s consent’ that I normally take, as a matter of protocol and propriety, I decided to break things down into three distinct reviews.

The first of these is the ‘The Moon’.

Our nearest celestial neighbor and one of the most sung and penned objects, the moon is mystical and attracts the curiosity of poets and philosophers.

“She didn’t quite know what the relationship was between lunatics and the moon, but it must be a strong one, if they used a word like that to describe the insane.”
Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die

The white orb in the night sky has numerous stories, poems, and songs. The intoxicated insanity that engulfs the poets as they look at the moon brings out their best, such that they shine their light through verses of love, joy, and poignance.

We explore four poems in this review.

Poem 1: Bishal Dey’s poem ‘The Moon Tonight’ looks up at the night moon and connects with the earthly experience of the white orb.

Poem 2: Ashok Subramanian’s poem, ‘The Moon and the Sea’ is a poem about how the night moon converses with the sea. The review of this poem is contributed by Priya Patel.

Poem 3: Sherifah Khan’s poem, ‘My Moon’ is a metaphoric conversation with her Moon beau.

Poem 4: George L Thomas’ poem ‘I hear the Moon provides a poignant view of human evolution and devolution over the eons.

Come with us on this exciting Moonshot journey.

Poem 1: The Moon Tonight

The Moon Tonight… Image by unicadmo79 from Pixabay

The perfect round moon shines over the sky.
It shines bright and bright
Like I had never seen before
I saw it like I had never seen anything before.

It did not only brighten the sky or the land.
On this dead night where I can only hear the insects murmuring among them and the dogs barking somewhere where even my eyes couldn’t reach.

The moon made a path through its rays
And entered the deepest depths of my heart.
I cherished that moment and wanted to cherish that moment for my lifetime.

Suddenly two eyes and a mouth appeared on the face of the moon and seemed to look away.
The birds were making a song which seemed to travel far with echo.
I felt a sense of immense friendship with the moon and literally took my hand ahead to shake my hands with the moon.

The moon felt like the mother of all.
As it shone over the land, the sky, the creatures and upon me on that limitless and endless stretch of darkness.
Which my father spoke of only existed in their villages.

As I was making requests to the moon to be my friend.
The street lights suddenly turned on and broke my connection with the moon.
~Bishal Dey

Commentary on Poem 1:

It is a bright full moon night. The poet takes us through his moments of awe, exploring the simple things that make him delightful. The Alfred Tennyson parable ‘All things bright and beautiful’ comes to my mind. The simplicity of the poet’s awe is highlighted in this poem.

The perfect round moon shines over the sky.
It shines bright and bright
Like I had never seen before
I saw it like I had never seen anything before.

The poet expresses his awe through the simple expression ‘I had never seen before and ‘saw it as I had never seen anything before’. But as he looks at it as a fresh surprise, he sees that it is ‘bright and bright’, and ‘perfect round’. His awe makes the freckles of the moon disappear.

What a startling simplicity!

It did not only brighten the sky or the land.
On this dead night where I can only hear the insects murmuring among them and the dogs barking somewhere where even my eyes couldn’t reach.

The moon illuminates everything in its wake, both the ‘sky’ and the ‘land’ beneath. In the land beneath, the poet hears the insects in the darkness and dogs faraway, where his sights cannot reach. The poet is blind in the darkness, yet hears the sounds of creatures because the moon illuminates everything.

These contrasts open up our minds to the omnipresence of the moon above, while we are limited in our senses during the night.

The moon made a path through its rays
And entered the deepest depths of my heart.
I cherished that moment and wanted to cherish that moment for my lifetime.

In a sense of the wandering verse, the young poet falls for the moon. The moon enters the deep recesses of the poet’s heart, and he cherishes that moment for a lifetime.

The poet could have saved words here, but I can attribute the excess verbiage only to that heady feeling of a moonaholic.

Suddenly two eyes and a mouth appeared on the face of the moon and seemed to look away.
The birds were making a song which seemed to travel far with echo.
I felt a sense of immense friendship with the moon and literally took my hand ahead to shake my hands with the moon.

The imaginary eye of the poet’s mind opens. He sees a face on the moon and two eyes on that face and those eyes look away.

“The face is a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

On the moon, he sees the picture of his mind, and the eyes are his. The moon’s face is a reflection of his mind. The poet’s interpretation of his mind reflects on the moon’s face.

The moon felt like the mother of all.
As it shone over the land, the sky, the creatures and upon me on that limitless and endless stretch of darkness.
Which my father spoke of only existed in their villages.

The poet reminisces about his father. His father had talked about the ‘limitless and endless’ darkness that prevailed in their villages. In those days, electricity was a luxury, and so many villages made good of the moonlight.

The moonlight shines on the earth and sky, the creatures and humans. Its soft light falls on everybody, like the caressing hands of a loving mother.

As I was making requests to the moon to be my friend.
The street lights suddenly turned on and broke my connection with the moon.

All along, the poet is in awe of the magnificence and omnipresence of the moon. Towards the end of the poem, he breaks out of his reticence, and seeks a hand of friendship; but then the human intervention happens. The street lights come on and break his reverie.

“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.”
carl sandburg

The moon is a metaphorical yearning of the poet about his father, who he misses in his life. His father had taken care of everything ( this I know from Ponder’ 21), and was omnipresent in his life. If only the moon could…

Poem 2: The Moon and the Sea

Image by Patou Ricard from Pixabay

Alone in my dressing room
As I caress and slowly trace
The smooth skin of my face
Shocking freckles

( As I look up at the sky
And watch the flawless beauty
Of the white moon
I see the grey craters)

‘Mirror, mirror, show me beautiful’
(said the moon)
‘I will show you a miracle, dear’
( Said the mirror)
‘Lo! You turn into shimmering gold
And see, now your freckles disappear.’

( I look at the dark sea
Now showing me a miracle
Wavy surface of shimmering gold
Of the beautiful broken moon)

© Ashok Subramanian

Commentary on Poem 2: ( By Priya Patel)

Alone in my dressing room

as I caress and slowly trace

the smooth skin of my face

Shocking freckles

The moon is reflecting as he sits high up in the sky, bathing with the stars and questioning the rough grey freckles on his face. Shocking freckles, as if they are unaccustomed to being touched. The moon, I think, is subconscious about how he is seen; as so many of us often are.

( As I look up at the sky

And watch the flawless beauty

Of the white moon

I see the grey craters)

The poet here, maybe have had this serene moment, where the night is falling, the moon is peeking out and the sea is silently wooing them both in. He looks up into the sky and tonight, the moon is brighter, larger perhaps, but even he knows the grey secrets hidden within. The proverbial and lustrous mask that we all wear now and then.

‘Mirror, mirror, show me beautiful’

(said the moon)

‘I will show you a miracle, dear’

( Said the mirror)

‘Lo! You turn into shimmering gold

And see, now your freckles disappear.’

The moon, in all its night glory, lives most of the day in the dark. He pleads with the mirror, which is such a cathartic metaphor for the sea, to make him beautiful; to hide the freckles he cannot escape from my day. I imagine Ashok, arms against the rails of the empty dock, overlooking the shiny beginnings of waves; the day is over and night is slowly taking over. The moon just beginning to show as the sun sets, and pleads with the mirror to make him beautiful.

How many times do we look in the mirror, suddenly aware of every wrinkle, every flaw, wanting a miracle mask to hide it all? That’s all the moon wants and the sea is happy to oblige. Now, as he looks up into the sky, the moon is a beacon of light and the freckles of the day have disappeared into the night.

( I look at the dark sea

Now showing me a miracle

Wavy surface of shimmering gold

Of the beautiful broken moon)

The imagination and inspiration to conjure the conversations between the moon and the sea are overwhelming for me because it is also the conversations we have every day within ourselves.

“The moon was so beautiful, that the ocean held up a mirror” ~ Ani DiFranco

Ashok was inspired by a photograph to write this poem of a magical moment, and I was inspired to review it. I wonder to myself, if perhaps there were other conversations there, hidden in this poem like the daytime moon, that I haven’t even touched on.

Poem 3: My Moon

My moon… Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

My sleep is good no stir
Sometimes dream other times blurr
Wake up every day smiling
Your smile on my mind brewing
It’s a beautiful sight to behold,
Loving memories unfold

My dreams are ravishing times
Sitting by the beach twillight
Counting stars at night
Its only you and me
All others don’t matter see
Maybe my dreams are real now
Have you guiding me somehow
Going thru my fears tears
your struggles cheers sphere

I love you more soar
No words can show flow
You to me are everything
I’m to you overrating
Just to let you know
I’m always here for you so
You are my everything eau
Moon shining beau

~Sherifah Khan

Commentary on Poem 3:

For poet Sherifah Khan, the moon is her friend and beau. It is a happy and joyous relationship, explored through her dreams and sleepless nights. A hybrid composition mixed with free verse and A-A-B-B patterns, the verses open up our hearts to our beau, the moon.

My sleep is good no stir
Sometimes dream other times blurr
Wake up every day smiling
Your smile on my mind brewing
It’s a beautiful sight to behold,
Loving memories unfold

The poet is in a joyous and peaceful frame of mind. It reflects the best part of her life. When she sees herself in the mirror, she smiles. It is not life is difficult, but she wears her happiness through her wake and sleep.

Her sleep is good — deep without stirring. It means that her mind is at peace. The occasional dream, and sometimes hazy. It does not matter, as the dawn nears, she wakes up smiling. She finds a ready companion on the moon.

“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The moon‘s smile grows on her, and it is a beautiful sight to behold, kindling fond, loving memories.

My dreams are ravishing times
Sitting by the beach twillight
Counting stars at night
Its only you and me
All others dont matter see
Maybe my dreams are real now
Have you guiding me somehow
Going thru my fears tears
your struggles cheers sphere

The dreams that come alive in the poet’s wake are the ones about the moon. The poet paints a vivid picture of her dream.

It is twilight when the blue meets the black, and the poet is sitting by the beach. She looks at the black blanket slowly engulfing the sky. She counts the stars and realizes that it is only the moon and her, connected with this thin line that others can’t see, or it does not matter.

Her wake is now her dreams, and the moon is her philosopher and guide. She guides the poet through her fears and tears, and her struggles and cheers. It is an all-weather companionship, comprising of friendship, philosophy, and guidance.

I love you more soar
No words can show flow
You to me are everything
I’m to you overrating
Just to let you know
Im always here for you so
You are my everything eau
Moon shining beau

The poet has a knack for double rhyming within the phrase, but that makes the words ring, imagine the second rhyming word sung by the choir, while the first rhyming word is sung by the lead. ( more-soar, show-flow)

The poet announces her love for the moon, a love that is beyond words. The moon is her everything — she calls the moon her ‘beau’, and she is wearing it like her ‘Eau’. There is a high life here, of beaches and perfumes, yet the fine love of the poet with the moon outshines them all.

“i want to be
in love with you

the same way
i am in
love with the moon

with the light
shining
out of its soul.”
Sanober Khan

The poet’s platonic love with the moon is romantic, yet beyond that. A fine, dull romance is the aftertaste left after savoring this poem.

Poem 4: I Can Hear the Moon

I can hear the moon … Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I can hear the moon, she whispers
Tales of wonder and of woe
Of all our earth has been through
Since it's birth eons ago

She speaks of strikes and impacts
Of a surface scarred with fire
Of how she came to exist herself
Born of ancient molten mire

She speaks of earth’s rage-filled youth
And how its temper gradually cooled
Helped along by ice-filled rocks
That melted and then pooled

She tells of seeing the spark of life
And of watching it bloom and grow
And of various and sundry creatures
She’s seen so many come and go

I can hear the moon, she sings
Sad songs of our earth’s plight
Of how every day it’s overwhelmed
By the impact of human might

She sings of its anxious worry
How it fears its end is nigh
And about how it wants to go on and on
And to never say goodbye

I can hear the moon, she whispers
About a world beginning to rust
And about how if we aren’t all careful
Our futures may turn to dust

She sings ballads of earth’s history
About its harsh, continued pain
And of how it’s starting now to buckle
From our inflicted stress and strain

I can hear the moon, she warns me
That, because she can see all,
She can see a time not far from now
When humanity will fall

Commentary on Poem 4:

The fascination of humans with the most lit object in the sky is obvious. But when we explore our relationship with the Moon, we realize that there is always another story to tell, and another dimension to explore. Poet George L. Thomas brings out yet another point of view and builds on it.

The poet sees the Moon as the Earth’s neighbor from the yore and explores how the Moon has felt about the Earth and its humans as the times have passed. From the past to the future, the Moon has seen with awe and shock the rise and fall of the human species and predicts that doom is awaiting us unless the humans mend their ways.

The poem follows the A-B-C-B rhythm pattern, and it is a sweet thing to look for while diving deep into the poem.

I can hear the moon, she whispers
Tales of wonder and of woe
Of all our earth has been through
Since it’s birth eons ago

The Earth was formed long before the Moon. But the Moon itself came from the earth, probably by a cosmic collision, so we can assume that the journey of the Earth since its birth was witnessed by the Moon ( or that ‘Moon’ part of the Earth). The story of Earth’s evolution is wonderful and painful at the same time.

The narrator is the poet, and the Moon is the subject, yet it is the Moon telling the Earth’s story. For the poet, it is still ‘our Earth’, indicating his love for the blue planet.

She speaks of strikes and impacts
Of a surface scarred with fire
Of how she came to exist herself
Born of ancient molten mire

The birth of the Moon was violent. Like a caesarian operation cutting open the mother’s womb and pulling out the child, there were strikes and impacts, and she ‘came to exist’. The Moon remembers the pain of her birth. The surface of her mother, the Earth, was scarred with fire, like the scars left through the caesarian birth.

This paragraph establishes the relationship between the Moon and her mother and neighbor, the Earth. It is the beginning of a long story.

She speaks of earth’s rage-filled youth
And how its temper gradually cooled
Helped along by ice-filled rocks
That melted and then pooled

The mother Earth is young but had to give violent birth to her child, the moon. Her youth is fraught with tantrums and raging upheavals.

There is a time when we are young and miserable within, hot and spoiled, burning in rage. But, Time, that supreme healer, heals the embers within. For Mother Earth, her teenage years torn and violent, the healing started with the gradual cooling of her atmosphere, with water forming, condensing, and freezing into ice around rocks.

Again, in one final act of heating, volumes of ice melted and pooled into the oceans.

She tells of seeing the spark of life
And of watching it bloom and grow
And of various and sundry creatures
She’s seen so many come and go

From a tumultuous teenager to a mellowed woman, Mother Earth’s life has turned bountiful. From the melted ice emerged sparkling blue waters of the oceans and in the ocean, in resplendent green, the spark of life emerged. The lives bloomed and grew into various and sundry creatures.

In a sense, the earthlings, the many who come and go, are the kin born of Mother Earth and so, the siblings of the Moon.

I can hear the moon, she sings
Sad songs of our earth’s plight
Of how every day it’s overwhelmed
By the impact of human might

She sings of its anxious worry
How it fears its end is nigh
And about how it wants to go on and on
And to never say goodbye

From the good news of the evolution of life on the Earth, the Moon turns melancholic. The Earth is overwhelmed by humans, who have turned into self-serving and unscrupulous, disrupting natural cycles and filling up with ecological challenges. In the name of ‘development’, humans have ripped Earth’s surface and soul, attacking her very existence. The Moon can but sing ‘sad songs of plight’, of Mother Earth and how her end could be ‘nigh’.

The songs are also about how the Moon wants to continue its ‘forever’ relationship with the Earth. ( How it wants to go on and on). The humans emerge as the prodigal kin of Mother Earth.

The feeling of the impending doom of her mother, and our mother earth seeps through the poet’s imagination.

I can hear the moon, she whispers
About a world beginning to rust
And about how if we aren’t all careful
Our futures may turn to dust

She sings ballads of earth’s history
About its harsh, continued pain
And of how it’s starting now to buckle
From our inflicted stress and strain

The melancholic verses of the poet move towards a sense of poignancy. The Earth had a painful formation, and when it just recovered to produce its ‘living’ children, the most evolved species, humans ‘inflict stress and strain’ on their mother, and how she feels the ‘harsh continued pain’, while ‘starting now to buckle’.

“The threat to the planet is us. It’s actually not a threat to the planet — it’s a threat to us.”
Margaret Atwood

The first person, as it evolves, is the human ( our poet being the listening kind), and the Moon laments the damage that we have done to Mother Earth. This point of view is significant — the Mother Earth which is her mother, is as much ours, and we seem to have left that kinship behind long ago. It is now a slide down the black hole of destruction.

She warns us that our world is beginning to rust, and our futures all may turn to dust — this is a silent plea by an elder, wiser sibling to the less understanding ones.

I can hear the moon, she warns me
That, because she can see all,
She can see a time not far from now
When humanity will fall

In the final stanza, the Moon warns the poet that she can see beyond our lives, into the future, when a time is not far from now and how and when humanity will fall. It is a clear admonition about how the most evolved species is the most prodigal, and since we are the only ones who can understand what the Moon says, it is appealing to us as our neighbor and sibling to protect our mother.

Whether we will listen, is the big question.

“This was exactly what I experienced in space: immense gratitude for the opportunity to see Earth from this vantage, and for the gift of the planet we’ve been given.”
Ron Garan, The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles

We forget what we have got — our lives on Mother Earth are gifts that we need to cherish. We need to be more thankful and mindful like the moon.

One white orb in the sky, yet so many poems by poets and paintings by artists. Moon captures everyone’s imagination in union and in parting, in joy and in sorrow, in loneliness and in love. To realize that we could enrapture and enjoy the poets summoning friendship, guidance, philosophy, parenthood, kinship, romance, and nature in one review is a gift by itself.

I thank Priya Patel for reviewing my poem, and her review has lit up this fabulous ensemble.

“I never really thought about how when I look at the moon, it’s the same moon as Shakespeare and Marie Antoinette and George Washington and Cleopatra looked at.”
Susan Beth Pfeffer, Life As We Knew It

What more can I tell — I stand at the terrace of the mid-summer night, watching the moon in wonder, as I write these lines.

~Ashok Subramanian

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Ashok Subramanian

Ashok Subramanian

Poet and Author. Poetry and Book Reviews. Investment Banker. IIM C Alumni. Engineering Graduate.