TO THE MOON
– P.B. Shelley
The poet, P. B. Shelley, reflects on the timeless journey of the moon. The poet feels that the moon has grown tired of climbing the heaven and looking upon the earth continuously. It looks pale because of its endless journey – its ascent in the heaven, which it keeps steady and looking below on the earth with a similar constancy.
The moon is all alone in the company of the stars. It is outlandish (strange) in the company of stars which have a different birth and origin. The moon goes on in its endless journey waxing and waning alternately. It changes its face from time to time to express its disgust form the world. The moon is not getting the companion of its heart’s desire. It is in search of a companion suited to its noble birth, and like a joyless eye that does not find an object worth its graces; the moon too keeps steadily changing. The poem is a short lyric. The entire poem does not contain more than six lines.
But within a network of six lines only, the entire Shelley has been contained. It is short, lyrical, elegant and graceful. The theme is a conventional one. The poet speaks of the moon. The moon is personified. Seen through the colored glass of the poet’s imaginative sensibility, the moon assumes not only glow and beauty, but even a majestic charm, a personality. The moon is stately, noble, and elegantly born. It becomes enriched with an individuality which far excels the graces of the stars that only twinkle round her. The poet offers the moon with feelings of his own mind. The moon feels strange among the stars of a different birth in the same way as the poet Shelley felt odd among the people that crowded round him- people of a distinctly low origin, nobility and birth. The poem is intensely subjective, and the charm of the moon is the charm of the poet’s personality. He stood alone and companionless in the multitude of men, who were so indifferent to his passion for a millennium on this earth. He sung, he cried, he thundered and even wept, but the world went on unheeding. The moon becomes the symbol of revolution, which carries on the message of peace all alone and single-handed.
Each of the stars is a flaming sun, and the moon is supposed to be a fragment detached from the earth. But Shelley holds a different opinion. He thinks that the moon has no companion. It is all alone and solitary. It is lonely in the company of stars. The stars do not belong to the same kind. The moon is nobly born. The stars have an inferior birth and have a different origin.
The moon is seeking constancy, but the moon itself is not constant. He is constantly changing in shape and size. The moon is never the same even on two consecutive nights. This change is due to the fact that the moon cannot find anyone whom he can love faithfully. Actually, nothing in the world remains constant. They keep on changing.
The poem is rich with images but the images lack clarity. In the last two lines, the image does not exactly fit in and lacks expressiveness. The poet compares the waxing and the waning of the moon with the joyless eyes of one who finds no object worth its constancy. But the waxing and waning of the moon is not happily expressed in the image. The poet here means to say that the waxing and waning of the moon may be likened to the unsteady eyes of a man who is in search of an object pleasing to his sight. Like the eyes of a man who is in search of beauty as responsive as the steadiness of his eyes, the moon seems to be changing its face form time to time. The change expresses a joyless feeling as the eyes of a man not finding a suitable object for his eyes were as a joyless expression. The other image of the moon – or a wanderer wandering companionless- among the stars of a low birth has both clarity and expressiveness. The first image of the moon being considered as a wanderer, pale with climbing the heaven is very suggestive and contains a rich note of pathos sublimated by rich and personal feelings. The lines are musical. The single image has been varied and seen through different angles. This one-sentence poem describes the joyless moon that does not find anything constant in this world. It is itself inconstant. That is why it seems to be in quest of constancy
Have a question? Ask us in our discussion forum.