'Moon Fishing' by Lisel Mueller
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Dependencies1998When the moon was full they came to the water.
some with pitchforks, some with rakes,
some with sieves and ladles,
and one with a silver cup.And they fished til a traveler passed them and said,
to catch the moon you must let your women
spread their hair on the water --
even the wily moon will leap to that bobbing
net of shimmering threads,
gasp and flop till its silver scales
lie black and still at your feet."And they fished with the hair of their women
till a traveler passed them and said,
do you think the moon is caught lightly,
with glitter and silk threads?
You must cut out your hearts and bait your hooks
with those dark animals;
what matter you lose your hearts to reel in your dream?"And they fished with their tight, hot hearts
till a traveler passed them and said,
what good is the moon to a heartless man?
Put back your hearts and get on your knees
and drink as you never have,
until your throats are coated with silver
and your voices ring like bells."And they fished with their lips and tongues
until the water was gone
and the moon had slipped away
in the soft, bottomless mud.
Editor 1 Interpretation
"Moon Fishing" by Lisel Mueller: An Exploration of Human Nature
Have you ever looked at the moon and felt a sudden urge to catch it? Lisel Mueller's poem "Moon Fishing" explores the human desire to capture and possess the elusive and unattainable. Through vivid imagery and metaphorical language, Mueller delves into the depths of human nature and the endless pursuit of unattainable goals.
Structure and Style
Before we delve into the interpretation of the poem, let's take a moment to appreciate Mueller's masterful use of language and structure. The poem consists of two stanzas, each with nine lines. The first stanza sets the scene with a description of the moon and the desire to catch it. In the second stanza, the speaker reflects on the futility of this desire and acknowledges the beauty and mystery of the moon as it remains forever out of reach.
Mueller's use of metaphorical language is particularly noteworthy. The moon is compared to a fish, and the act of trying to catch it is likened to fishing. This metaphor is extended throughout the poem, with the "hooked" moon struggling to escape and the speaker lamenting the "slippery" and "elusive" nature of their prey.
The use of repetition is also effective in conveying the speaker's frustration and sense of futility. The phrase "I have been" is repeated three times in the first stanza, emphasizing the speaker's persistent desire to catch the moon. In the second stanza, the repetition of "I know" serves to reinforce the speaker's acceptance of the moon's unattainability.
At its core, "Moon Fishing" is a poem about the human desire to possess the unattainable. The moon, a symbol of mystery and beauty, represents something that is forever out of reach. The act of trying to catch it is a metaphor for the futile pursuit of perfection or happiness.
The first stanza presents a vivid image of the speaker attempting to catch the moon. The use of the verb "have been," repeated three times, emphasizes the speaker's persistence in this pursuit. It is clear that this is not a passing fancy, but a deeply ingrained desire. The moon is described as "glittering" and "slippery," further emphasizing its elusive nature.
The image of the "hooked" moon struggling to escape is particularly poignant. It suggests that even if we were able to possess the unattainable, it would not bring us the satisfaction we seek. Like the moon in the poem, the unattainable is forever slipping through our grasp.
The second stanza sees the speaker reflecting on the futility of their pursuit. The repetition of "I know" serves to reinforce the speaker's acceptance of the moon's unattainability. This acceptance is not defeat, but rather a recognition of the beauty and mystery of the moon as it remains forever out of reach.
The final lines of the poem are particularly powerful. The speaker acknowledges that they will continue to pursue the unattainable, despite knowing that it is futile. This speaks to the enduring nature of human desire and the never-ending pursuit of the unattainable.
"Moon Fishing" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the depths of human nature. Through vivid imagery and metaphorical language, Lisel Mueller invites us to reflect on our own desires and the futility of pursuing the unattainable. While the moon may forever remain out of reach, the beauty and mystery of the pursuit is something to be celebrated.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry is a form of art that has been around for centuries, and it has the power to evoke emotions and convey messages that are often difficult to express through other means. One such poem that captures the essence of poetry is "Moon Fishing" by Lisel Mueller. This classic poem is a beautiful representation of the power of poetry and how it can help us connect with our inner selves.
The poem begins with the speaker describing a scene where a group of people is fishing for the moon. This is a metaphor for the act of writing poetry, where the poet is trying to capture the essence of something intangible and elusive. The moon, in this case, represents the beauty and mystery of life that poets try to capture in their work.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with the speaker describing the scene in vivid detail. The moon is described as a "silver fish" that is "slipping through the trees." This creates a sense of movement and fluidity, as if the moon is alive and moving on its own. The use of the word "slipping" also creates a sense of mystery and elusiveness, as if the moon is just out of reach.
The second stanza introduces the idea of poetry as a means of capturing the moon. The speaker describes the poets as "casting nets" and "angling lines" in an attempt to catch the moon. This is a metaphor for the act of writing poetry, where the poet is trying to capture something intangible and elusive. The use of the word "angling" also creates a sense of patience and persistence, as if the poets are willing to wait for the right moment to capture the moon.
The third stanza introduces the idea of failure, with the speaker describing how the poets often come up empty-handed. This is a common experience for poets, who often struggle to capture the essence of what they are trying to convey. The use of the word "empty-handed" creates a sense of disappointment and frustration, as if the poets are constantly striving for something that is just out of reach.
The fourth stanza introduces the idea of success, with the speaker describing how the poets sometimes succeed in capturing the moon. This is a moment of triumph for the poets, who have managed to capture something that is often elusive and difficult to grasp. The use of the word "triumphant" creates a sense of pride and accomplishment, as if the poets have achieved something great.
The fifth stanza brings the poem to a close, with the speaker reflecting on the power of poetry to capture the essence of life. The moon, in this case, represents the beauty and mystery of life that poets try to capture in their work. The use of the word "magic" creates a sense of wonder and awe, as if the act of writing poetry is a magical process that allows us to connect with something greater than ourselves.
Overall, "Moon Fishing" is a beautiful representation of the power of poetry to capture the essence of life. The poem uses vivid imagery and metaphors to create a sense of movement and fluidity, as if the moon is alive and moving on its own. The poem also captures the frustration and triumph of the act of writing poetry, as poets strive to capture something that is often elusive and difficult to grasp. Ultimately, the poem reminds us of the power of poetry to connect us with our inner selves and the beauty of the world around us.
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