Mooncalf

October 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

ActaeonCasertaDiana and Actaeon, Luigi Vanvitelli

Obama won a Nobel for diplomacy. What better way to ignite the fury of the anti-intellectual crowd who already despise him? I expect calls for him to move to Sweden, and photoshopped porno pix of him with leggy Scandinavian models hurled at our spam filters. But at least he didn’t win it for his writing. As the kids would put it, that would be so gay.

In other news, we’re bombing the moon to find out if it has water. Did anyone ask the moon if it wanted to be bombed? Iran is threatening to bomb “the heart of Israel” and we think that’s a bad thing. The moon is where all the dead great writers who didn’t win Nobels go to prepare for their next incarnations as terrorists or wine-makers or cats.

Being a soulful type, I’ve long had a cordial relationship with the lovely orb. When I was 12, I borrowed a half a cup of my mother’s Tanqueray and poured it into the lake as a sacrifice to the goddess. In later years, I’d go out under the full moon and beg favors. Whenever I asked the goddess for love, she sent me a lad. The last one was 44 years old, but still laddish. My men are, if nothing else, moon-touched.  (I’ve always thought it was too bad that “mooncalf” is a derogatory term. I see an awkward boy with big shining eyes, part Minotaur, part Edward Lear.)

Barack, make peace with the moon. Let’s not be like those guys who slash paintings in museums just because they can. Remember what happened to Actaeon. And consider what would happen if those fingers pulling at the tides pulled a little more ferociously.

Full Moon

Isolate and full, the moon
Floats over the house by the river.
Into the night the cold water rushes away below the gate.
The bright gold spilled onto the river is never still.
The brilliance of my quilt is greater than precious silk.
The circle without blemish.
The empty mountains without sound.
The moon hangs in the vacant, wide constellations.
Pine cones drop in the old garden.
The senna trees bloom.
The same clear glory extends for ten thousand miles.

–Tu Fu (712-770)
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

The Cat And The Moon

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet.
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

–William Butler Yeats

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