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September 28, 2012


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Hi Peony:

Beautiful post! I like the explanation of the moon in the East ande what it still means to modern people. I would say, however, there is a dual symbolism in the West. In addition to the negative connotations that moon symbolism conjures, we also have, "Claire de Lune", the ocean, female life cycle etc.


Hi Laura, It was so funny--the next night we went to hear Anne Akiko Meyers perform with the New West Symphony here in town and it was the night before the full moon (29th)... as the Kid and I were staring at the moon, my mom's boyfriend said to me, "Be careful not to stare too long at the moon, you might go crazy or turn into a werewolf!" It was so funny because having spent really all those adult years in Japan, te difference between east and west was not all that clearly felt... I think the image of "lunacy" is seen too in the unpredicatbility of the Sea and of women... maybe? I was talking to a Chinese friend the next night and told her what happened and she said, Now that is something no one would say in China..." I am not sure I can think of anything where the moon is seen as this source of great virtue in European thought... I did look up the poem Debussy was inspired by and copied it below..Mesopotamium pie sounded DIVINE!!!!!!!! xoxo

Claire de Lune
by Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896)

Your soul is a chosen landscape
Where charming masked and costumed figures go
Playing the lute and dancing and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

All sing in a minor key
Of all-conquering love and careless fortune
They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight.

The still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
Which gives the birds to dream in the trees
And makes the fountain sprays sob in ecstasy,
The tall, slender fountain sprays among the marble statues

Wow! I never knew about the poem!

I used to play the piece when I was young and liked it, particularly the wild middle bits with the calm at both ends. Thanks. . . (See the duality in Verlaine's imagery?)

It is a really beautiful poem, isn't it? I would never have found it is you hadn't reminded me of Debussy's music!!! Ting-Jen just emailed this one.. also first time for me to read (but wanted to share it with you)

The Moon
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

And, like a dying lady lean and pale,
Who totters forth, wrapp'd in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose up in the murky east,
A white and shapeless mass.

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,
And ever changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

One more emailed from Athena--for Laura:

" the moon has important connections with highly positive imagery.
The moon was considered to be the source of dew ~~ an agent of healing grace
and identical with the aqua permanens.
Luna secretes the dew or sap of life.
This Luna is the sap of the water of life,
which is hidden in Mercurius.
Greek alchemists supposed there was a principle in the moon which Christianos calls
'The Ichor of the Philosopher.'
The aqua permanens 'is a sign of divine intervention', it is the moisture that heralds
the return of the soul.'
As Jung tells us, the alchemists thought that the Opus demanded not only laboratory work,
the reading of books, meditation,
[page 74-75 Edward Edinger text]

Beautiful all! Especially fond of the info sent by Athena - thanks!

and then, there is Archibald MacLeash's almost Zen-like vision:

...A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind --

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs...

Funny. I ran across this post while I was searching for Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.

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