Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 760
“Moreover, the Moon,” is a short poem consisting of fifty-one words that are crafted into five brief stanzas. The first stanza reads like a request: “Face of the skies / preside / over our wonder,” and the second follows in similar fashion: “Fluorescent / truant of heaven / draw us under.” In addition to being written as a request might be, these first two stanzas are linked by the end rhyme found in their last lines: “wonder” and “under.” Both stanzas invoke the image of the moon, which is initially alluded to in the poem’s title. The first stanza takes the lunar reference a step further by addressing a “face” in the sky, which most likely refers to the man in the moon. Whereas the moon is a symbol that is often associated with the feminine in art and literature, Loy’s specific attention to the face suggests that she is using the image as a masculine one instead. In the second stanza, the man in the moon is called a “truant of heaven,” suggesting that there is something negative or sinful about him. Indeed, in popular myth, the man in the moon is said to be nailed there to atone for his sins. In these first two stanzas, Loy identifies the moon as a masculine symbol and one that has a certain amount of power. He “preside[s]” over the writer’s “wonder” and has the ability to “draw [her] under,” as if to possibly hypnotize, or in the case of the riptide that is controlled by the moon, to carry her out to sea.
In the third stanza, Loy again addresses the moon, this time as a “Silver, circular corpse.” Instead of posing a request in this stanza, Loy uses it to make a declarative statement, indicating that the moon’s “decease / infects us with unendurable ease.” If one considers that the man in the moon is a symbol for patriarchy, this stanza suggests that patriarchy’s demise leaves women in a state of calm that is riddled with some sort of anxiety. The comfort women feel is unendurable, perhaps because, like the moon, patriarchy never really ceases to exist. The moon is a permanent fixture in the earth’s universe, and Loy metaphorically suggests here that so is patriarchy’s control over women’s lives.
As indicated by the comma that follows “ease,” the fourth stanza is a continuation of the sentence begun in the third stanza. “Touching nerve-terminals / to thermal icicles” refers back to the “decease” mentioned in the second line of stanza 3. On a first read, “thermal” and “icicles” seem like an unlikely, if not completely counterintuitive, match; however, Loy’s use of this image coming in contact with nerveterminals is an important metaphor for conveying her thoughts about the impact that patriarchy has on women’s lives. By definition, an icicle is a liquid that is freezing or forming. When an icicle comes in contact with a thermal element, or something related to heat, it naturally begins to melt, or be destroyed. Nerve terminals are the physical pathways that enable people to think, move, and feel. By exposing these to thermal icicles, Loy suggests that in the face of patriarchy, women’s lives are being simultaneously made and torn apart.
Loy omits the period at the end of the fourth stanza, suggesting that the first line in stanza 5 continues the thoughts in the previous two sections. Read in this way, “Coercive as coma / frail as bloom” can mean that patriarchy’s presence in women’s lives is as compelling as a coma is at relieving someone of consciousness. At the same time, this control is described as “frail,” meaning that the power men exert may not be as strong as some might think. Loy continues with “innuendos of your inverse dawn / suffuse the self.” In this line, Loy literally says that even a hint of the moon setting illuminates the self. Metaphorically, she means that a hint of patriarchy’s control loosening allows women to know themselves better. This line is ironic, however, because in the previous sections, she has alluded to the idea that the moon never sets or that patriarchy never wholly disappears. Thus, this line suggests that women will never fully know themselves in the presence of patriarchy. She finishes the poem with “our every corpuscle become an elf.” By stating that every living cell becomes an elf, Loy concludes that women become elves, or more pointedly, that women who believe they truly know themselves are only something of folklore.
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