The June 2023 Full Moon, popularly called the Strawberry Moon, will be on tonight, June 3 at 11:42 PM EDT or June 4 at 3:42 AM UTC. Okay, it will look very full even on the 3rd no matter what time zone you’re in. This third Full Moon of spring occurs about two weeks before the Summer Solstice. It is the Full Moon in Sagittarius.
“June” and “Moon” is a simple rhyme and there is no lack of poems about the Moon, and poems in which the Moon makes an appearance in its full or other phases. In an essay on “Poetry and the Moon” by Mary Ruefle, she says:
I am convinced that the first lyric poem was written at night, and that the moon was witness to the event and that the event was witness to the moon. For me, the moon has always been the very embodiment of lyric poetry. In the West, lyric poetry begins with a woman on an island in the seventh or sixth century BC, and I say now: lyric poetry begins with a woman on an island on a moonlit night, when the moon is nearing full or just the other side of it, or on the dot… Let’s call her Sappho. One can hardly say these little songs have survived—for we have only fragments—but even this seems fitting, for what is the moment but a fragment of greater time?
Tonight I’ve watched
the moon and then
The night is now
goes; I am
in bed alone
Sappho sees the Moon and the Pleiades which is a group of more than 800 stars located about 410 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. But they would have been known for far fewer stars that can be seen by the naked eye which we call the “Seven Sisters” (and the less poetic Messier 45). The name comes from a Greek legend. The Pleiades are the seven daughters of the Titan god Atlas and the ocean nymph Pleione. During an ancient war, Atlas rebelled against Zeus, the king of the gods, who sentenced his foe to forever hold up the heavens on his shoulders. The sisters were so sad that Zeus allowed them a place in the sky in order to be close to their father.
There is a section of the poem “To the Moon” by Percy Bysshe Shelley that is often shown as its own short poem.
Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing Heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Among the stars that have a different birth,—
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy
Shelley asks the Moon why it is pale and answers for the satellite.
Emily Dickinson has several lunar poems. In this one, he sees a Full Moon (maybe not exactly full since it looks that way for several days) that had looked different just a few nights ago. When do you think the Moon has phase with a “Chin of Gold”?
The Moon was but a Chin of Gold
A Night or two ago—
And now she turns Her perfect Face
Upon the World below—
If we keep reading Emily’s poem, we start to wonder if she is really writing about the Moon at all.
Her Forehead is of Amplest Blonde—
Her Cheek—a Beryl hewn—
Her Eye unto the Summer Dew
The likest I have known—
Her Lips of Amber never part—
But what must be the smile
Upon Her Friend she could confer
Were such Her Silver Will …
Carl Sandburg’s “Moonset” is an odd one and not what I would think is typical for him.
Leaves of poplars pick Japanese prints against the west
Moon sand on the canal doubles the changing pictures.
The moon’s good-by ends pictures.
The west is empty. All else is empty. No moon-talk at all now.
Only dark listening to dark.
It’s not very surprising that Sylvia Plath sees the Moon a bit differently in “The Moon And The Yew Tree.”
The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness –
And to end my Moon gazing, a haiku.
The moon glows the same:
it is the drifting cloud forms
make it seem to change.