Trumbull Stickney

They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon by Trumbull Stickney

‘They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon’ by Trumbull Stickney speaks of the brief life of two lovers and their love’s impact on the world as a whole.

‘They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon’ by Trumbull Stickney is an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet that follows a specific rhyme scheme traditional to that form. The poem can be separated into two distinct sections, one set of eight lines, or octave, (this can be further split into two sets of four lines of quatrains), and one set of six lines, or sestet. 

The two quatrains rhyme, abba abba, while the following six-line rhyme, cddece. It is normal for poets to take liberties with the pattern of rhyme contained in the sestet, crafting any number of variations off of the original. 

They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon by Trumbull Stickney



They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon” by Trumbull Stickney speaks of the brief life of two lovers and their love’s small impact on the entire magnificent world.

The poem begins with the speaker describing an unknown “they” who are living a life together. These characters, whose identity is never clearly revealed, seem to be obsessed with one another. They are most likely lovers and live in a state of constant admiration for “the…moon.” They live a life of love and appreciation for the celestial sights that hang over their lake. 

The lovers are consumed with a single thought, their “Passion” for one another. This is the emotion that drives every second of their lives and will be their downfall. All of a sudden, as if without warning, the love is over. Their hearts are broken, and they, so caught up in their relationship, die. 

In the final section of the piece the speaker takes a larger look at the world and shows that this loss is nothing in comparison to the enormous beauty of the “Earth.” One cannot place his or her whole life in the hands of one “Flower” when there are many “green boughs” to appreciate. The state of the planet does not hinge on the health of a single relationship. 

The poem also speaks on the transient nature of life. One must be willing to accept that things will not stay the same forever as well as able to appreciate something before it is gone for good. 

Read more poetry by Trumbell Stickney here.


Analysis of They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon

Lines 1-4 

They lived enamoured of the lovely moon, 

The dawn and twilight on their gentle lake. 

Then Passion marvellously born did shake 

Their breast and drave them into the mid-noon. 

This piece begins with a vague introduction of the main characters. Nowhere in, “They Live Enamoured of the Lovely Moon,” is it completely clear who exactly the main characters actually are. The reader will be given more and more context clues as the poem progresses, leading one to their own conclusion as to who, “they,” are. 

One very likely possibility is that “they,” refers to two lovers who have isolated themselves from the rest of the world. They have found a place in which they can find peace with one another and have lived there long enough to become “enamored” of one key feature in their landscape, the moon. The moon’s presence is semi-constant. It is strongly lit throughout the night and provides them with a “lovely” sight to see over their lake. 

The next lines speak of the coming of twilight and dawn. These two very different events are also present in their world, and cast their glow over the “gentle lake.” The lake can refer to an actual physical lake or the general landscape of the lover’s life. 

The lovers are experiencing a “Passion” in this place that is “marvellously born.” It is inspired by lunar and solar movements and has driven, or “drave,” them through the days together. They remain by each other’s side throughout the days of their lives. 


Lines 5-8

Their lives did shrink to one desire, and soon 

They rose fire-eyed to follow in the wake 

Of one eternal thought,—when sudden brake 

Their hearts. They died, in miserable swoon. 

In the second quatrain, the speaker continues the narrative of the lovers and provides the reader with some darker details about the history of their love. Due to the fact that the two were so consumed with one another, isolated from the rest of the world, and driven solely by passion, “their lives” became all about only one thing, their “desire” for the other. 

When the lovers rose in the morning, they were “fire-eyed,” or determined, to “follow in the wake” of that one all-consuming thought. Their love seemed to be an “eternal” state that they could blindly follow every day of their lives. 

In the next line and a half, there is a shocking change in the narrative. Their love is suddenly shattered, along with their lives. Without warning, there is a “sudden brake” to their hearts. Everything slows down, the “Passion” is gone and the love dies. The lovers themselves, who are so caught up in one another also die, “in miserable swoon.” 


Lines 9-14 

Of all their agony not a sound was heard. 

The glory of the Earth is more than they. 

She asks her lovely image of the day:  

A flower grows, a million boughs are green, 

And over moving ocean-waves the bird 

Chases his shadow and is no more seen. 

The last section of the poem, which is made up of six lines, (also known as a sestet), concludes the story of these lovers and compares their loss to the general grandiosity of the “Earth.” The narrative continues with a statement that puts their “agony” into perspective. While it might have been a world-shattering change for the lovers, 

Of all their agony not a sound was heard. 

The glory of the Earth is more than they. 

When compared to the beauty, power, and magnificence of the entire planet, the broken hearts of two of its residents seem to be without much relevance to the big picture. How is one to care about the state of two people, when there is an entire world which is, “more than they?” 

The final lines of this piece emphasize the transient nature of the world. The speaker describes how while one flower might be beautiful, but when one zooms back and sees the whole picture, “a million boughs are green.” There are a million flowers and blooming plants on the planet to appreciate. Additionally, the speaker describes a seabird flying over the “ocean-waves.” This bird is chasing after its own shadow. It is on a pointless quest towards a goal it will never reach. As the bird journeys out across the ocean, it disappears. This is similar to the way that the lover’s love seemed to vanish all of a sudden, as if without warning. 

This entire piece is a reminder to pay attention to something when you have it, as it can vanish in the next second. Additionally, the poet wants to remind his readers that the world is not without beauty. Even when something heart wrenching or life chaining occurs, there are still many more wonderful sights to see and “green boughs” to observe. 

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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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