The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“August Moon” is a poem of forty-seven lines dispersed among thirteen stanzas varying in length: The shortest stanza has only one line; the longest has eight. It is written entirely in free verse and is, therefore, typical of most of Robert Penn Warren’s poetry in that imagery and metaphor are always the dominant vehicle of expression.

The title, though ostensibly a simple one, is highly suggestive both as a metaphor and as an image in itself. Literally, it is readily discoverable that the moon is bright and half-full, shining on a clear August night when literal heat and the clearness of the sky are at their zeniths. Metaphorically, such a moon represents the emotional intensity the poet feels for his beloved. As an image, it is indicative of the intellectual passion the poet experiences, not in the heat of the moment, but in the heat of his life.

The poem is written in the first person, both singular and plural. The use of “we” is not as a plural voice; rather, “we” is undoubtedly intended as a way to personalize the experience and to involve the poem’s readers. Warren uses the second-person “you” in three instances. He does so not to suggest that he is addressing a second person, even the lover or the reader, but to talk to some component of his self.

The first stanza of the poem contains two metaphorical images: The August moon of the title is “Gold like a half-slice of orange/ Fished from a stiff...

(The entire section is 572 words.)