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Full Moon and Little Frieda -- Ted Hughes

This week's theme: the Moon. We start with a guest poem submitted by Mike
Christie:
(Poem #723) Full Moon and Little Frieda
 A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket --

 And you listening.
 A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch.
 A pail lifted, still and brimming -- mirror
 To tempt a first star to a tremor.

 Cows are going home in the lane there, looping the hedges with their warm
wreaths of breath --
 A dark river of blood, many boulders,
 Balancing unspilled milk.

 'Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!'

 The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work
 That points at him amazed.
-- Ted Hughes
When I was fifteen I liked poetry, but for some reason I was under the
impression that if a poet didn't stick to rhyme and metre they were just
being lazy. I liked Keats, Byron, Rossetti, Housman; romantic verse in
traditional forms. Not too unusual for a fifteen year-old. Then, in English
class, I read an anthology of modern verse that included Andrew Motion,
Seamus Heaney, and Ted Hughes. None of it stuck at the time except the
Hughes, and I loved 'Pike', 'The Thought Fox', and 'Hawk in the Rain'. Right
at the end of the anthology was 'Full Moon and Little Frieda'.

I was completely taken aback. I can still remember reading it over and over,
trying to figure out why on earth I liked it so much when it didn't do
anything I had thought a poem had to do. It's no longer my favourite Hughes
poem -- that would have to be something in the Crow series; and Larkin has
since overtaken Hughes as my favourite modern poet. But I have a deep
affection for this poem; it taught me in a few seconds more than I knew
there was to learn.

I like the way the first line spreads a canvas: "a cool small evening": and
the rest of the poem shines a light only on selected, disconnected areas of
the canvas.  It's about as far as you can get from a judgmental work; the
poet contributes six or seven almost independent images but lets the reader
assemble them at will.  And the tenses are interesting, too: the poem is an
instantaneous snapshot, lasting only a second or so: all the actions are
either past, or present but captured as a moment.  The only action is the
cry of 'Moon!'.

Mike Christie.

Other Minstrels poems by Ted Hughes:
  Poem #42, "Hawk Roosting"
  Poem #98, "The Thought Fox"
  Poem #417, "Thistles"
  Poem #671, "Lineage"

8 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Speed Chuck said...

Hi There -

I am wondering if you had to obtain permission from the Estate of Ted Hughes
in order to put his poem on the net.

I need to contact the estate and I am wondering if you have the appropriate
names and telephone numbers.

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Best regards,

Chuck Speed

Don Gottlieb said...

The poem first lulls me and then I am startled by the child's cry. I end up awestruck by the imagery of the child and the moon, regarding each other. I never tire of this poem and am always stunned by it's simple, pure nature.
JoAnne Gottlieb

MarjorMy7 said...

Dear Chuck, I read your message about permission for the Ted Hughes
poem. It seems you were asking how to do this. Did you have any luck?
I wrote a piece of music last year with a Ted Hughes poem as lyrics. I
have been in touch with Faber & Faber (the publisher) all this time, but
it is impossible to get a response Any advice would be welcome.

Best wishes,

Phoebe Myhill. .

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