Thisessay is about two poems called ‘Sonnet of the Moon’ by Charles Best (1608) andanother, called ‘Sad Steps’ by Philip Larkin (1974).
The essay will attempt toshow the key differences in both poems, the tone used, and the meaning of bothpoems. In ‘Sonnet of the Moon’ the word ‘Sonnet’ or ‘Sonetto’ in Italian,refers to a poem that consists of fourteen lines and has its origins in Italy.In English it also means ‘Little Music’ or ‘Little Song’.
The second of the two poems ‘Sad steps’, wasfinalised and completed Philip Larkins in 1968 and was published in his lastvolume called ‘High Windows’ in 1974. 2. Analysis of ‘A Sonnet ofthe Moon’ by Charles Best (1608). ‘Look how the pale queen of the silentnight Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her, And he, as long as she is in his sight, With her full tide is ready her to honor.
But when the silver waggon of the moon Is mounted up so high he cannot follow, The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan, And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow. So you that are the sovereign of my heart Have all my joys attending on your will, My joys low-ebbing when you do depart, When you return their tide my heart doth fill. So as you come and as you do depart, Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart’. At the start of the poem in the first seven lines, the writer isdescribing the interactions between the moon and the ocean. Because the moonhas an effect on the tide, the writer describes this interaction at first asthe ‘pale queen of the silent night’, as if to convey the majestic beauty ofthe moon at night.
‘Doth’, meaning doesin English, causing the ocean to attend upon her, is how he explains the tidalinteractions upon the ocean. The writer 3.- explains that as long as ‘he’ (the ocean) is in sight of ‘her’ (themoon), then the relationship between both continues in this flow. You can then start to sense a change in tonefrom the writer when he says, ‘but when the silver waggon of the moon ismounted up so high he cannot follow’ and ‘the sea calls home his crystal wavesto moan’ and then ending with ‘and with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow’, youstart to develop the impression that the writers own personal feelings or lovefor someone in his life is being played out in this natural interaction and hisdisappointment that the relationship he has sometimes comes and goes, just likethe waves that ebb, flow and moan which compounds his feelings of sadness.Essentially, the poem is about the joys, the highs and the lows, ofthe writers own romantic Tale of the love of his life.
At times, the relationship is beautiful just like the moon upon the sea,how it makes it roar to life, and then at times, when the moon is out of sight,the waves recede, and how he rejoices when it returns again. There is also arhyme scheme in the poem too such as night and sight, and upon her and honor.,follow, sorrow, will, fill, depart and heart. Metaphors are used where thewriter says ‘pale queen of the silent night’, and ‘tide is ready her to honor’,and ‘silver waggon of the moon, mounted up so high’, as well as ‘ebb and flowin my tender heart’.
There are also many examples of how figurative language or metaphorsare utilised in the poem consistently such as ‘crystal waves to moan,’sovereign of my heart’, and ‘when you return their tide’. 4.’Sad Steps’ – Philip Larkin (1974)Analysis.The first part of the poem in the first four lines, is the writerconveying the image of himself staggering into his bedroom at night, and as heis doing so, he slides the curtains open and takes a gaze at the moon. He isimpressed by the brightness over the garden and surrounding areas, but equallyunimpressed by the fuss of it all when the writer says, ‘There`s somethinglaughable about this’. He imagines themoon as some sort of majestic romantic phenomena, but writes that even wolvescan find the moon mesmerising but there is usually an element of danger in themoon and the wolves. In ‘Lozenge of love’ and ‘Medallion of art’ the writermakes the connection with romance and beauty, so in essence the writer is onone hand marvelling at the beauty of the moon and its connections to romanceand love, but also saying that the moon can also be a danger sign as this iswhat usually drives the wolf to come out hunting. The hunting in this case isthe writer’s memory, making him think back to his younger days.
The writer then rather dishearteninglyrealises when he states, ‘One shivers slightly, looking up there’, the hardnessand the brightness and the plain, far reaching singleness of that wide stare’.In this the writer means the moon always encompasses that overwhelming powerand beauty, it does not change over time, that it has a ‘stare’ that is wideand reaches far over the horizon, and that he is immersed in the immortality ofthe moon, but equally saddened that this view of the moon, the crystal clearbright moon that never seems to change and always looks good, will never be areflection of the writer because youth does not last forever, unlike the moon,but there will be others, looking up at the sky, who will be in their youth and all thehappiness that brings 5.-with it.
The writer is saddened by this. Heremembers the times of his youth too, and realises it will never come back tohim and reminisces about that time. What the writer has done on this poem ismake two rather opposite contrasts with the same object, two differentviewpoints of the ‘Moon’. On one hand he rather disparagingly implies thatalthough the moon is beautiful and clear, high up, unchanging, a catalyst forromance, strength and youth, it can also be viewed as negative and dangerous,using the ‘wolf’ as an example of this ‘memory’. He then shows a rather enviousside where he seems to be missing the time he used to look up at the moon inall its beauty, but while he was young and had youth on his side, and here heis now looking up at the same moon, unchanged in all its glory, but a mucholder man and no longer the youth he once was.
This pains him which is why hesays ‘reminder of the strength and pain of being young’, and that ‘it can’tcome again’. 6.Conclusion. Both poems reference themoon significantly in their writing.
In ‘A sonnet of the moon’ the writerdeclares his awe for the moon from the very first few lines. The poem developshighlighting the moon and its interactions with the ocean, and then this is comparedtowards the end into a personal love relationship between the writer and hisown romantic loved one. The highs and lows of the writer’s personalrelationship is played out through the moon and the ocean. Key words such as’queen’, ‘crystal waves’, ‘low ebb’, ‘sorrow’, ‘moan’, ‘sovereign’, ‘heart’ and’depart’, all make this connection that the writer is telling the story of thelove of his life.
In ‘Sad Steps’, the writertells about the moon, about its magnificence, about how its light spreads far andwide, high up in the sky, with a seemingly unchanged ‘stare’ and how the moonis looked upon as a thing of beauty and power. He then starts to decry thenotion of beauty and writes that the memories like wolves haunt him, it remindshim of a time he was young, and painfully, the realisation that he is no longeryoung. There was a time he looked up at this never changing moon when he wasyouthful and he remembers that time. He acknowledges that for other people, theyouth is here now, and they more or less look up at the moon and feel its joysin youth just like he did once upon a time.