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THE MOON

By: P. B. Shelley (1792-1822)


I.
AND, like a dying lady lean and pale,
Who totters forth, wrapp'd in a ga!y "eil,
Ot of her #ha$%er, led %y the insane
And fee%le wanderings of her fading %rain,
The $oon arose p in the $rky east
A white and shapeless $ass.
II.
Art tho pale for weariness
Of #li$%ing hea"en and ga!ing on the earth,
Wandering #o$panionless
A$ong the stars that ha"e a different %irth,
And e"er #hanging, like a &oyless eye

That finds no o%&e#t worth its
#onstan#y'
P. B. Shelley is #onsidered %y $any to %e a$ong the greatest,
and one of the $ost inflential leaders of the (o$anti#
Mo"e$ent. Of no poet in English, or perhaps in any other
tonge, #old it %e said with $ore srety, that the prsit
of the spirit of %eaty do$inates all his work. )or *helley
it interfsed all natre and to possess it was the goal of
all endea"or. The "isi%le world and the world of thoght
$ingle the$sel"es ine+tri#a%ly in his #onte$plation of it.
)or hi$ there is no %ondary line %etween the two, the one
is as real and a#tal as the other. It is in The Moon P. B.
Shelley addresses the %asi# ,estion of ro$anti#is$- what is
%eaty' How is it en&oyed' The Moon is a sper% e+a$ple that
shows that e"erything depends on the eye of the %eholder.
What strikes $ost is the #ontrasting featre that the poe$
offers.
The Moon is a %rilliant fsion of poeti# #rafts$anship and
skilled i$agery. The $oon has %een #o$pared to two different
personas in the two stan!as- a lean and senile %ody in the
first stan!a and a lonely and weary lady in ,est of a
#o$panion. Here is the per#eption of the sa$e $oon %y the
different personae. The natral o%&e#t $oon is "iewed fro$
the %i.#olor shades- one diseased and another de&e#ted
lo"er.
In the first stan!a, we find the $oon as a personified lady
of weak health, lean and pale who #o$es ot of her #ha$%er
in fe"erish tre$%les. *he e$erges fro$ a thin "eil of #lods
in a /ga!y "eil0. Her insanity only %rings her ot in the
%la#k eastern sky with no ro$anti# appeals %t an insipid,
shapeless $ass of nattra#ti"eness. The slow and %lrred
"isi%ility of the $oon strikes no poplar $ythi#al i$ages
%t of sorrowfl sffering-
And, like a dying lady lean and pale,
Who totters forth, wrapp'd in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose up in the murky east
A white and shapeless mass!
In the se#ond stan!a the $oon appears to %e $ore traditional
poeti# i$age of lady in lo"e. Here the $oon is /wandering
#o$panionless0. Hers is the lonely i$age of (th in align
field of #orn. 1ike the %lessed da$o!el, she is in hea"en
%t with no hea"enly pea#e. Her lo"er li"es in the far
%eneath the planet earth and she re$ains %sy sear#hing hi$.
)arther, the $oon and the stars are different geographi#al
presen#e is artisti#ally highlighted as ha"ing /a different
%irth0. A$ong the planets and stars, she re$ains the lonely
satellite. *he is #hanging her hea"enly positions again and
again with &oyless eyes to find her lo"er. *he is faithfl
in lo"e and in her #onstan#y she %ids for the lo"er in down
earth. The i$age of s#h a lady in lo"e with no real lo"er
is itself a $elan#holi# paint of a lady forlorn-
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a "oyless eye
That finds no ob"ect worth its constancy#!
It is also to %e re$e$%ered that the poe$ %egins with a
#on&n#tion 2and3 as if the "erse is a #ontined #ataloge
of o%ser"ations. The "ision of $oon "aries fro$ $an to $an
and what strikes the key note is the definition of %eaty
that it is the #o$pendi$ of identity with whi#h we are
addressed with.
Trly speaking, *helley is a diffi#lt poet4 to follow his
$eaning with ease and se#rity re,ires a ni$%le and poeti#
intelligen#e, whi#h #o$parati"ely few readers are possessed
of. 5t the $ain reason why this poe$ is poplar is %e#ase
it has h$an interest- it is filled with the enthsias$ of
h$anity and e$%odies his o%ser"ation of life. We will agree
with this &dg$ent and all who #are to read the thoghts of
a great poet pon $any points of high literary and
philosophi#al interest will find a ri#h treat in 6er#y
5ysshe *helley0s The Moon.
H.W. Longfellow's
N!"#e
As a fond $other, when the day is o'er,
1eads %y the hand her little #hild to %ed,
Half willing, half rel#tant to %e led,
And lea"e his %roken playthings on the floor,
*till ga!ing at the$ throgh the open door,
Nor wholly reassred and #o$forted
5y pro$ises of others in their stead,
Whi#h, thogh $ore splendid, $ay not please hi$ $ore4
*o Natre deals with s, and takes away
Or playthings one %y one, and %y the hand
1eads s to rest so gently, that we go
*#ar#e knowing if we wish to go or stay,
5eing too fll of sleep to nderstand
How far the nknown trans#ends the what we know.
$n!#o%"&!'on
Hen#y W%swo#!h Longfellow (18(7-1882) is one of the $ost
poplar and #ele%rated A$eri#an poets .1ongfellow's poeti#
work is #hara#teri!ed %y fa$iliar the$es, easily grasped
ideas, and #lear, si$ple, $elodios stylish langage. His
%eatifl sonnet N!"#e is a poplar e+a$ple of his si$ple
yet $elodios lyri#is$. It is not hard, then, to show in the
poe$ N!"#e the general str#tre- the rhy$e.s#he$e4 the
sstained si$ile e+pressed %y the two great wa"es of
thoght, one in the o#ta"e and the other in the sestet4 and
the #o$plete i$pression in few words.
The gene#l s!#"&!"#e: !he #hy)e-s&he)e
The sonnet N!"#e is $odeled pon the Italian, or 6etrar#han
sonnet for$. It has forteen lines in two sets- two
,atrains for$ing an o#ta"e, rhy$ing a%%a, a%%a4 and si+
lines in two sets of three, rhy$ing a%#, a%#. The &$p of
thoght i.e. the "olta of a sonnet is well str#tred too as
the intensity and ineptness of the thoght #l$inates for$
the o#ta"e to sestet.
As a fond $other, when the day is o'er,
1eads %y the hand her little #hild to %ed,
Half willing, half rel#tant to %e led,
And lea"e his %roken playthings on the floor,
*till ga!ing at the$ throgh the open door,
Nor wholly reassred and #o$forted
5y pro$ises of others in their stead,
Whi#h, thogh $ore splendid, $ay not please hi$ $ore4
*o Natre deals with s, and takes away
Or playthings one %y one, and %y the hand
1eads s to rest so gently, that we go
*#ar#e knowing if we wish to go or stay,
5eing too fll of sleep to nderstand
How far the nknown trans#ends the what we know.
The s"s!'ne% s')'le !he o&!*e
The o#ta"e stan!a %egins with a %eatifl si$ple "erse of
the #hild %sy in playing while his $other is attending hi$
to take on rest. The #hild is playing day long and now is
o%"iosly tired and his fond $other, as the day is o"er, her
little #hild to %ed. 5t he #hild is half willing for he is
tired and half rel#tant for he is still wishing to play
$ore with his playthings. His %roken playthings are lying on
the floor and he is ga!ing at the$ throgh the open door.
His $other0s pro$ises of new playthings repla#ing old ones
#an not wholly reassre and #o$fort the little #hild. E"en
thogh $ore splendid and gorgeos the new arti#les it shold
%e, his a$oros %roken arti#les allde hi$ still.
The s"s!'ne% s')'le !he ses!e!
1ike an e+tended si$ile the sestet stan!a $akes it e+pli#it
the profond philosophi#al idea #ontained in the poe$. As
the relation of the fond $other and her rel#tant #hild is
drawn in the first 6ara, we find the natre $other and
in$ates like s is related. Natre $other deals with s, the
h$an likewise. As the playthings of the #hild are %roken
one after another, or pleasres of life are taken away one
after another. All the sensal pleasres, rosy springs of
passion of %ody and heart are taken away gradally. The
gla$or of wealth and glory of yoth %e#o$e $ore sha%%y and
deterred4 we are gently led to death %y the natre $other
withot e"en knowing if we wish to go or stay. The eternal
sleep will lll s into the gra"eyard, to the territory of
the "ast nknown, the world %eyond. More srprisingly, the
e+perien#es and knowledge gained in or earthly life are
insffi#ient and in#apa%le of e+plaining what lies %eyond
the earthly, physi#al life.
The &o)+le!e ')+#ess'on 'n few wo#%s
H.W. Longfellow has e+,isitely presented in the poe$
N!"#e a philosophi#al idea of death as ine"ita%le
#onse,en#es of din and %stle of or life. It is the
greatest %oon of or N!"#e Mo!he# that she fosters and
nrtres h$an life with all sorts of $aterial pleasres and
atta#h$ents. It is the sa$e natre, howe"er, $akes s old,
infir$ and fragile and gradally all the playthings are
taken away and the earthly %indings go shattered. 1ike in
The ,e!#e! %y -"ghn. Longfellow too states or days of
earth li$ited or like /#y states the ine"ita%le
#onse,en#es of or life leads %t to the gra"e. 5t what
re$ind s $ost are Tgo#e0s i$$ortal lines fro$ /ol%en Bo!
where the Eternal 5oat$an i. e. god is rel#tant to #arry
other earthy arti#les other than the $an hi$self.