This week's theme: the Moon. We start with a guest poem submitted by Mike Christie:
(Poem #723) Full Moon and Little Frieda
A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket -- And you listening. A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch. A pail lifted, still and brimming -- mirror To tempt a first star to a tremor. Cows are going home in the lane there, looping the hedges with their warm wreaths of breath -- A dark river of blood, many boulders, Balancing unspilled milk. 'Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!' The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work That points at him amazed.
When I was fifteen I liked poetry, but for some reason I was under the impression that if a poet didn't stick to rhyme and metre they were just being lazy. I liked Keats, Byron, Rossetti, Housman; romantic verse in traditional forms. Not too unusual for a fifteen year-old. Then, in English class, I read an anthology of modern verse that included Andrew Motion, Seamus Heaney, and Ted Hughes. None of it stuck at the time except the Hughes, and I loved 'Pike', 'The Thought Fox', and 'Hawk in the Rain'. Right at the end of the anthology was 'Full Moon and Little Frieda'. I was completely taken aback. I can still remember reading it over and over, trying to figure out why on earth I liked it so much when it didn't do anything I had thought a poem had to do. It's no longer my favourite Hughes poem -- that would have to be something in the Crow series; and Larkin has since overtaken Hughes as my favourite modern poet. But I have a deep affection for this poem; it taught me in a few seconds more than I knew there was to learn. I like the way the first line spreads a canvas: "a cool small evening": and the rest of the poem shines a light only on selected, disconnected areas of the canvas. It's about as far as you can get from a judgmental work; the poet contributes six or seven almost independent images but lets the reader assemble them at will. And the tenses are interesting, too: the poem is an instantaneous snapshot, lasting only a second or so: all the actions are either past, or present but captured as a moment. The only action is the cry of 'Moon!'. Mike Christie. Other Minstrels poems by Ted Hughes: Poem #42, "Hawk Roosting" Poem #98, "The Thought Fox" Poem #417, "Thistles" Poem #671, "Lineage"