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Moon by Kathleen Jamie explores the feeling of abandonment and

disconnection felt by an emotionally scarred narrator. The narrator

waits for the moon appearing in the northern sky in August to shine
its light into her attic room. The moon light conjures up different
emotions to the narrator when it moves across the room. The silent
movement of the moon light finally brings the narrator to question
why she waits for moon which can never say the words of love like
her mother could. Throughout the poem, Jamie uses structure,
setting, imagery and other literary devices in order to elicit the
analogy between the Moon and the mothers absence. Perhaps the
poet is trying to convey the idea that something small and
seemingly insignificant can lead to the emotional destruction of a
The structure of Moon emphasises the effect of the long awaited
visit of the moon. The first 27 lines of the poem describe the
increasing dislike of the moon by the narrator. This dislike finally
explodes with italicised ending starting from line 28 when the
narrator shouts out to the moon that she is incapable of words of
love. The change in the contrasting structure parallels the shift in
tone which conveys the shift from imagination to reality as the
narrator realises the moon which is not capable of words of love is
not her mother who is capable of words of love. This realization
leads the narrator to question why she waits for the moon in August.
In addition, the caesura after I waited forces the reader to pause.
The caesura not only builds tension but also intensifies the anxiety
the narrator feels while waiting. The continuous use of enjambment
also accentuates how the Moon visited the speaker in an ephemeral
and cursory manner. Kathleen Jamie is able to provoke the coldness
and unfeeling atmosphere by making an analogy between the hasty
visit from the Moon and the non-presence of the mother.
Right from the beginning, the poet is able to establish a sense of
isolation through the use of setting. The poem is set in an attic
room which usually have connotation with darkness and
detachment as items put in the attic room are usually abandoned
and neglected. The strong emotion of isolation reflects the
neglected relationship between the mother and speaker. In some
way, the Moons oblong of light that enters the dark attic, is an
analogy to the light that enters a dark room when the door is
opened. This vividly visual imagery evokes the sense of warmth as
darkness usually has a connotation of harsh coldness whilst light
usually portrays mellowness. Perhaps this situation implies that
there is a history behind these thoughts the speaker has, conveying
the idea that this might be a reflection of the relationship going back
to childhood.

However, the readers begin to realise that the Moons light reflects
the mothers absence through the use of verbs and personification.
The use of the verb in the personification the moontravelled
hints the transient nature of the visit by the moon. This verb also
portrays the unemotional and unsympathetic visit by the moon,
mirroring the disconnection between the mother and speaker. In
addition, the use of pretended also brings out the ostensible
nature of the visit. In the beginning, it seemed as if the moon is
coming to commiserate however there is an increasing sense of
detachment as the visit progresses. Perhaps this is a reflection of
time: as time passes, the older narrator is able to understand that
the moon cannot be a substitute for his/her mother, emphasising
the idea that nothing can substitute parents love.
The use of synesthetic imagery in the poem also helps to
accentuate the growing sense of isolation and disconnection. The
moons cool gaze shift evokes the tactile imagery of coldness and
allows the reader to fully feel the abandoned feelings of the child.
Furthermore, the domestic imagery such as the paper crowded
desk, other objects stirred and pinned on the far wall also
reflects the current emotion of the speaker. The paper crowded
desk implies that the speakers emotions are bottled up, just like
how the papers on the desk are all crowded together; this reflects
the frustration the narrator feels about the relationship. The use of
the word stirred perhaps conveys the confused and ambivalent
emotions of the child, as the child knows that the moon isnt his/her
mother, but the moons presence reminds the child of the moms
non-presence. Later the sketch pinned on the far wall reveals the
disengagement between the mother and the child. By using
imagery, the poet is able to unveil the developing sense of neglect
and expose the reader to the childs emotions.
The final italicized lines emphasises the permanent mark that the
relationship between the mother and the narrator has on the
narrator, as well as hints that even the moon is somewhat more
loving that the mother, intensifying the idea of neglect felt by the
speaker. The diction scarred evokes the sense that the abandoned
relationship will lead to an irrevocable emotional destruction of the
narrator. The speaker is merely just asking for the simple words of
love and realises that only his/her mom can give him/her the
simple words of love and the moon can never be a substitute for her
mom. In some way, what makes the poem extremely melancholy is
the last line of the poem, when the speaker says that he/she will
wait for her mothers simple words of love unto death. Its
almost as if the narrator is willing to wait even longer just to receive
the love he/she always wanted. Perhaps the narrator is longing for
some sympathy or expecting an apology from a previous event, as
he/she was waiting for the moon to open and confess, almost as if
to reveal the truth about something.

In conclusion Moon is a very provocative poem, which not only

evokes the common emotion of longing for parents love, but also
introduces the idea that children are fragile and something small
and insignificant for adults can lead to emotional destruction.
Kathleen Jamie uses literary devices in order to fully stimulate the
readers to think about our childhood, and perhaps even question our
relationship with our parents.

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