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Thursday, 27 January 2011

To the Moon

For the past few weeks I have been reading a few poems a day from "To the Moon" a anthology of lunar poems edited by Carol Ann Duffy, who must have had a fabulous time making this selection. What I love about it, is that the Moon is one of the few constants in humanity's ever-changing view, and because of this the collection enables us to see not just the Moon in all it moods but also the waxing and waning of poetry itself through the ages.

Arranged chronologically the poems span from Sappho (500BC) to Alice Oswald who is still with us and every age between. From rampant rhyming romanticism to thinly-pared prose-poems, it's all here. A journey through the fads and fashions of poetry which makes us surprised we ever thought that way, and equally startled that we think this way now.

This one-pointed collection also tracks our relationship with the Moon from the purely mysterious and symbolic, to the mundane essential light before the advent of electricity, and beyond to the time of the Apollo space mission where it becomes mere conquered dirt under our feet. I suspect the anthology was produced on the anniversary of the Moon Landings. There are several poems inspired by mankind's "giant step" including poems by Dannie Abse and the marvellous "Translunar Space March" by Edwin Morgan which describes the plaque we have sent into Space to inform alien races who/what humans are.....

..."A deodorized American man
with apologetic genitals and no pubic hair
holds up a banana-like right hand
in Indian greeting, at his side a woman,
smaller, and also with no pubic hair
is not alowed to hold up her hand,
stands with one leg off centre, and
is obviously an inferior sort
of the same species. However,
the male chauvinist pig
has a sullen expression, and the woman
is faintly smiling, so
interplanetary inteligences may still have homework."

If you haven't yet got a copy of this excellent book,you can see the moon rise today at 2.05 am and set again at 10.40. Plenty of time to write your own poem. Or you could wait for the next full moon on Friday 18th February and write by the light of it.

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