What is the tone of the poem "Full Moon and Little Frieda" by Ted Hughes? Is it constant or does it change?

Expert Answers
coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem 'Full Moon and Little Frieda' by Ted Hughes, the poet spells out for us, the readers, the magic of a dusky evening, cows lowing and a huge milky moon rising after sunset. The mood is awed and hushed as if in anticipation of the majesty of the coming moon. The tone is respectful and even a little sombre at first. Then the poem swings time and space around as the little girl notices the moon, and it appears to 'be in their face' too - noticing father and daughter while they stare. The mood and tone change to become more urgent, more potent. The themes deal with Nature, power, time, space and the way each can mirror the other.

reneedmj1 | Student


Let us start with a blank page and write only the lines;

"A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket -
And you listening."

What feeling do you get from those lines?  Ask yourself the mood that the passage puts you in. 

In the next line; "A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch."

We are coming to the end of the day, to a point of rest from labor.  Anticipation is evident in the above line; [tense for], and the time of day [dew].

"You" are listening via Hughes' pen, as 'freida', his "little" daughter.  We need to know as readers that the person mentioned in the poem is real.  She is the daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

"A pail lifted, still and brimming - mirror
To tempt a first star to a tremor."

For me there is a serenity unleashing itself here.  The entire line is a metaphor of events.  The tone shifts from somber to anticipation, to a sigh of relief that the day is dawning, but the mood remains the same until the point of;

"Moon" Moon"... There is a definite tranquility until those words are shouted from the "amazement" of his daughter.  His thoughts of a labor and fatigue written here;

"A dark river of blood, many boulders,
Balancing unspilled milk."

This signifies the task of being a dairy farmer.  I believe the "river of blood" may be symbolic of the 'blood, sweat, and tears' in our daily "work". 


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

The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work
That points at him amazed."

The poem itself was written by Hughes regarding the beauty that Hughes may have overlooked in his day to day task when "suddenly" his daughter "Freida" reminds him with her innocent discovery of what must have been a wonderful full moon.  I am sure, looking through her eyes was as if he too was seeing the "moon" for the first time.  I have witnessed such excitement with each of my four children when they noticed "the giant ball" in the night sky, as my youngest child exclaimed.

Always read poetry aloud.  Read and re-read to decide the mood and theme for yourself.  That way you will enjoy what is written, as it relates to you.  Poetry is subjective.  More often than not there will be many interpretations to a work of poetry.  It is best that you form your own. 

Good Luck!