The little-known role of the moon in literature
While the moon has always held intense symbolism in it, one of the moon’s universal symbols in literature is simply: love or lovesickness.
However, generally, the moon holds feminine characteristics in literature. It stands to serve as a comparison or metaphor or some sort of description of women in all types and forms. From the glow in a woman’s face to the round shape of her eyes to the gleam in her smile, all have been scribbled in poetry. The irony is that despite a woman never having stepped foot onto the moon itself, we have forever been inked as being part of the celestial surface.
The moon is also portrayed as a feminine identity itself. For example: in the poem titled “The Moon” by Emily Dickinson:
If studied more in-depth, the moon can also portray inner knowledge in literature. We also know that in reality, the moon controls the tides, water, rain and season, and thus it could symbolise the phases of a person’s life in this world.
My personal favourite symbolism of the moon is that of it being in between the light of the sun and the darkness of the night. Therefore, it represents the world between dark and light, consciousness and unconscious, good and bad. It can be seen as the perfect balance between two contrasting things, the grey line, the centre of attention.
It can also be seen as the light at the end of the tunnel or a victory after a long dark road, or the destination of peace. This can be seen in the poem titled “Moonrise” by Bliss Carman:
As writers and readers, we are well familiar with the imagery of a lighthouse in literature. Towards the end of the ocean, upon the shore, it stands tall and bright upon the shore and guides those at sea towards the light.
Likewise, the moon can be portrayed in literature as the light that guides us, our souls, our paths and our minds towards our destinations. It can be seen as a guide to the ocean, the waters and the waves. This is noticeable in the poem called “The poem is distant from the sea” yet again by Emily Dickinson:
It is also visible in a poem called “Sailing To-Night” by an unknown poet:
As the Lion is deemed to be the King of the jungle, the Moon can be portrayed as the Queen of the night. This can be seen in a poem by Terry Webb Harshman called “Queen of the night”
Alas, as this has already been understood and explained before, I would like to emphasise my personal analysis of what role the moon can play in literature.
As a lover of the night and observer of the moon, I have spent a myriad of nights under the dark sky gazing towards the moon and the millions of stars.
To me, it has made me realise how far I am from the rest of the universe and how utterly impossible it seems to reach out to the celestial surface.
Thus, it has brought to mind the comparison between the moon and a lover that one cannot attain or reach. Someone so far beyond our control and ourselves that we cannot seem to even fathom how we’d ever be able to touch them, whether that is physically or emotionally.
I have written a piece to explain this feeling and this metaphor as accurately as possible and hope to have done so effectively in the poem titled “Moon boy, lover boy.”
The article has sufficiently touched on a variety of different symbolisms that the moon holds in literature. However, each to his own, especially in poetry. A poet’s ink is a renegade, no explanation, no analysis and no ruling can hold it captive. The moon can portray whatever the heart of the poet desires.
About The Author
Bio: Muskaan Ayesha is a South African author, poet, editor and radio presenter. She’s a strong willed woman with a love for trying new things and living life through all her gathered knowledge.