To the Moon by Percy Bysshe Shelley

To The Moon is a poem that Shelley has addressed to the moon. The moon shining in the sky has always been a mystery to human beings who have been speculating upon her nature. Although with man’s landing on the moon investigations into the history and nature of the moon have already yielded valuable results. The ancient Greeks personified the moon as a goddess who, according to the story, fell in love with a mortal, Endymion.


To The Moon Analysis

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?

In the poem, To the Moon, by P.B. Shelley, the poet says that the moon is pale. Why? Perhaps the moon is pale because of fatigue. She has to climb up the sky every night and she has to remain awake all night and to gaze all the time at the earth.

All this exertion is too much for her. Again, the moon has to travel all along among the stars with which she has nothing in common. The origin and nature of the stars are quite different from those of the moon and, therefore, the moon feels lonely and solitary among them. The moon is constantly changing in shape and size. The moon is never the same even on two consecutive nights.

This change is due to the fact that the moon cannot find anyone who she can love faithfully. Just as a man’s eyes may be restless because he cannot find a beloved she cannot find anybody worthy of her devotion and love. The change of the moon is thus due to her restlessness.


To The Moon Summary

The poet thinks that the moon is pale because she is tired of constantly traveling over the sky and always gazing upon the earth. The moon has to wander among stars which are different from her in nature and origin. She is thus without a companion or a comrade. There is also, according to the poet, a reason for the ever-changing shape of the moon. The moon keeps growing bigger and then becoming smaller because she finds no object worthy of her constancy.


Critical Appreciation

This is a brief composition addressed to the moon. Its most striking quality is the poet’s imaginative rendering of a natural phenomenon. Science has its own explanation for the changing phases of the moon and her journeying round and round the earth. But the poet here gives fanciful reasons for the paleness of the moon and of her ever-changing shape. There is a difference between the facts of science and the fancies of poetry.

The poem shows also Shelley’s gift of word paining. He has vividly drawn the picture of the moon climbing the sky companionless and ever-changing in her shape and size. The comparison of the pale moon with the joyless eye of a human being is strikingly apt.

In “The Cloud”, Shelley refers to the moon as “that orbed maiden with white fire laden,” and depicts this maiden as gliding over the “fleece-like floor” of the cloud. This is certainly a beautiful fancy. Another beautiful fancy about the moon is expressed by Shelley in a very brief composition (named “The Waning Moon”) which reads as follows:

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.

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4 Comments

  1. M.A.Deboral August 1, 2019
    • mm Lee-James Bovey August 7, 2019
  2. da October 22, 2019
    • mm Lee-James Bovey October 23, 2019

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