Friday, October 30, 2015

A Harsh Mistress

October 30th 2015

The moon floats in that region where music and poetry lie, almost more a presence than a physical entity. No matter that our generation casts the umbrella of science over it and deems it just a piece of earth thrown into the abyss but caught in our planet's gravity. In fact, perhaps that's why we identify with it so much - it's the same force of attraction anchoring our feet to the surface of this spinning ball we call home.  Most definitely female this mystical orb in the night sky, unless you're german, for which Der Mond stays resolutely masculine and creates a whole different mentality with it. La Luna. What else could she be? In English, we took the German word and gave it a sex change. The moon is she, a harsh mistress, as the song goes.

And she floats through the world's literature in the same eerie way she moves through the heavens.
King David of the Psalms called the moon "the faithful witness in the sky." In ancient Hindu literature, Shiva and his consort Parvati wear the moon on their foreheads because they are beyond the sphere of time. In Europe, the moon was almost always equated with the goddess (even the Germans had Frigga of the Full Moon) until she got kicked out of the sky by the old man...

And so it goes into modern literature. Yeats was rather obssessed by it (Blood and the Moon, Cat and the moon.) And this from Sylvia Plath's poem "The Moon and the Yew Tree":  

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary. 
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.

Our bodies are sixty percent water - seventy-three percent in the case of the brain and the heart. The moon affects the tides, so how could it do otherwise than exert itself on our watery lives? Of course, women already know this. Men have to learn it. We are creatures of the moon. Lunatics, all.

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