Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers
on Monday mornings. This is an Open Thread forum,
so if you have an off-topic opinion burning a hole in
your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.
. . We are going to the moon that is not very far.
. . Man has so much farther to go within himself.
. . ― Anaïs Nin
Today is National Moon Day. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on moon.
The Moon, ancient mystery, companion of the sleepless, tide-shifter, illuminator of romance and despair alike. Many feared we would lose our fascination with the Moon when mortal men stepped upon that face, but our eternal dance, ever-turning, has never missed a step.
by Robert Hayden
No longer throne of a goddess to whom we pray,
no longer the bubble house of childhood’s
tumbling Mother Goose man,
The emphatic moon ascends–
the brilliant challenger of rocket experts,
the white hope of communications men.
Some I love who are dead
were watchers of the moon and knew its lore;
planted seeds, trimmed their hair,
Pierced their ears for gold hoop earrings
as it waxed or waned.
It shines tonight upon their graves.
And burned in the garden of Gethsemane,
its light made holy by the dazzling tears
with which it mingled.
And spread its radiance on the exile’s path
of Him who was The Glorious One,
its light made holy by His holiness.
Already a mooted goal and tomorrow perhaps
an arms base, a livid sector,
the full moon dominates the dark.
“Full Moon” from Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher, © 1978, 1982 by Robert Hayden, Liveright Publishing Corporation
Robert Hayden (1913-1980) American poet, essayist and educator, was born in Detroit, Michigan. He was raised by adoptive parents who changed his name from Asa Bundy Sheffy to Robert Hayden. His eyesight was so near-blind it prevented him from playing outside with other children. His adoptive mother had to fight for his right to attend classes for the partially sighted, but poverty limited the resources available. He learned to read holding books inches from his face. At age 23, he went to work (1936-1940) for the Federal Writers Project, researching black American history and folk life, which became recurring themes in his poetry. In 1940, he married Erma Morris, and converted to his wife’s religion — the Baha’i faith, another influence on his work. 1940 was also the year he published his first book of poems, Heart-Shape in the Dust. Hayden was the first African-American appointed as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1976-1978).
Wanting the Moon
by Denise Levertov
Not the moon. A flower
on the other side of the water.
The water sweeps past in flood,
dragging a whole tree by the hair,
a barn, a bridge. The flower
sings on the far bank.
Not a flower, a bird calling
hidden among the darkest trees, music
over the water, making a silence
out of the brown folds of the river’s cloak.
The moon. No, a young man walking
under the trees. There are lanterns
among the leaves.
Tender, wise, merry,
his face is awake with its own light,
I see it across the water as if close up.
A jester. The music rings from his bells,
gravely, a tune of sorrow,
I dance to it on my riverbank.
“Wanting the Moon” from The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov – First Edition 2013 – New Directions
Denise Levertov (1923-1997) British-born American poet, is known for her anti-Vietnam War poems in the 1960s and 1970s, which also included themes of destruction by greed, racism, and sexism. Her later poetry reflects her conversion to Catholicism. No matter the subject, she was always an acute observer, and wrote with a rare combination of economy and grace. Levertov was the author of 24 books of poetry, as well as non-fiction, and she served as poetry editor of The Nation and Mother Jones. She was honored with the Robert Frost Medal in 1990, and the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 1993. In 1997, Levertov died from complications of lymphoma at the age of 74.
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
“A Solar Eclipse” is in the public domain.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American author and poet, was born in Wisconsin. “Solitude” is probably her best-remembered poem, for its opening lines, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you;/ Weep, and you weep alone./ For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth / But has trouble enough of its own.” Her poetry collections include Poems of Passion (1883), Poems of Reflection (1905), and Poems of Peace (1906).
by T. E. Hulme
A touch of cold in the Autumn night
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
“Autumn” is in the public domain
T. E. Hulme(1883-1917) born Thomas Ernest Hulme, English literary critic and poet; one of the founders of the imagist movement, was born on September 16, 1883, in Endon, England. He was killed in action during World War I at age 34 on September 28, 1917. He published little in his lifetime, but his friend Herbert Read assembled some of his notes and fragments, publishing them in 1924 under the title Speculations. He and Ezra Pound are credited as major influences in the New Criticism, the reform of the literary curriculum in the 1940s.
by Roger McGough
sitting up in the sky
little old lady
with a ball of fading light
and silvery needles
knitting the night
“Mrs. Moon” from Roger McGough: Collected Poems, © by Roger McGough – Penguin UK
Roger McGough (1937 – ) English poet, broadcaster, children’s author and playwright. He is the presenter on the BBC Radio4 programme Poetry Please. Considered one of the leading members of the Liverpool poets, who were influenced by Beat poetry and Liverpool’s 1960s culture. His work was featured in The Mersey Sound, a 1967 anthology of poetry by McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, which became one of the bestselling poetry anthologies of all time, selling over 500,000 copies. McGough was responsible for much of the humorous dialogue in the Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine, although he did not receive an on-screen credit.
by Tu Fu
Above the tower — a lone, twice-sized moon.
On the cold river passing night-filled homes,
It scatters restless gold across the waves.
On mats, it shines richer than silken gauze.
Empty peaks, silence: among sparse stars,
Not yet flawed, it drifts. Pine and cinnamon
Spreading in my old garden . . . All light,
All ten thousand miles at once in its light!
“Full Moon” from The Selected Poems of Tu Fu: Expanded and Newly Translated by David Hinton, © 1988, 1989 by David Hinton – New Directions
Tu Fu (712 AD – 770 AD) Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty (also spelled Du Fu), considered one of China’s greatest poets. He failed to pass the civil servant exam, and became a traveler, enduring many hardships. After the An Lushan Rebellion (755-763), he was appointed to the post of registrar in the crown prince’s palace, but was overly conscientious, so he was demoted. He moved to a cottage in Sichuan, but spent his last years again as a traveler. He died in Hunan Province at age 58.
The Moon is Distant from the Sea (387)
by Emily Dickinson
The Moon is distant from the Sea —
And yet, with Amber Hands —
She leads Him — docile as a Boy —
Along appointed Sands —
He never misses a Degree —
Obedient to Her Eye
He comes just so far — toward the Town —
Just so far — goes away —
Oh, Signor, Thine, the Amber Hand —
And mine — the distant Sea —
Obedient to the least command
Thine eye impose on me —
“The Moon is Distant from the Sea” from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin – © 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College – Harvard University Press
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) America’s best-known woman poet and one of the nation’s greatest and most original authors, lived the life of a recluse in Amherst Massachusetts. She wrote nearly 1800 poems, ignoring the traditional poetic forms prevailing among most of the other poets of her day. The extent of her work wasn’t known until after her death, when her younger sister Lavinia discovered her huge cache of poems.
The Moon Versus Us Ever Sleeping Together Again
by Richard Brautigan
I sit here, an arch-villain of romance,
thinking about you. Gee, I’m sorry
I made you unhappy, but there was nothing
I could do about it because I have to be free.
Perhaps everything would have been different
if you had stayed at the table or asked me
to go out with you to look at the moon,
instead of getting up and leaving me alone with
“The Moon Versus Us Ever Sleeping Together Again” from Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork, © 1976 by Richard Brautigan, Simon and Schuster
Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) born in Tacoma, Washington. American novelist, poet, and short story writer, best known for Trout Fishing in America. Among his other works are: A Confederate General from Big Sur; All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace; Please Plant This Book; and The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western. He once wrote, “All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.”
The Cat and The Moon
by William Butler Yeats
The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet.
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.
“The Cat and The Moon” from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats – Scribner Revised Edition 1996
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), is admired as one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century. He is a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival (also ironically called the Celtic Twilight), and a co-founder of the Irish National Theatre Society and the Abbey Theatre with Lady Augusta Gregory.
The moon tonight
by Kobayashi Issa
The moon tonight–
I even miss
Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect known for his haiku poems and journals. He is better known as simply Issa (一茶), a pen name meaning Cup-of-Tea. He is regarded as one of the four great haiku masters of Japan, along with Bashō, Buson and Shiki. He wrote over 20,000 haiku.
Fragments from Rumi:
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī) was born in 1207; Persian poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. His works have influenced the literary traditions in Persian, Turkish, Chagatai, Urdu and Pashto, and have been widely translated into many languages.
We Are Surprised
by Ada Limón
Now, we take the moon
into the middle of our brains
so we look like roadside stray cats
with bright flashlight-white eyes
in our faces, but no real ideas
of when or where to run.
We linger on the field’s green edge
and say, Someday son, none of this
will be yours. Miracles are all around.
We’re not so much homeless
as we are home free, penny-poor,
but plenty lucky for love and leaves
that keep breaking the fall. Here it is:
the new way of living with the world
inside of us so we cannot lose it,
and we cannot be lost. You and me,
are us and them, and it and sky.
It’s hard to believe we didn’t
know that before; it’s hard to believe
we were so hollowed out, so drained,
only so we could shine a little harder
when the light finally came.
“We Are Surprised” from Bright Dead Things, © 2015 by Ada Limón – Milkweed Editions
Ada Limón (1976 –) is the author of Lucky Wreck (2006), Sharks in the Rivers (2010), The Carrying (2018) and Bright Dead Things (2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She splits much of her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and her home town, Sonoma, California.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
– Neil Armstrong
Where were you when they landed on the Moon?