Poetry Review: “Full Moon” by Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden

The recent full moon put me in mind of this well known poem by Robert Hayden. That is the way it is with familiar and favorite poems… you will suddenly find yourself repeating lines to yourself while you are doing something else.

That is the kind of poem I have always wanted to write myself. One that someone will suddenly find themselves repeating as they are driving down the street, or out in the yard cutting the grass, or standing in a stream casting for trout.

Detroit-born Hayden studied under Auden. In some of his poems, I fancy that I can see the influence. This is one of those poems. It is something in the interplay between the images and the form, and in some of the word choices. I cannot articulate it any more than that. It is merely a feeling… no doubt originally suggested to me by the fact that when I first read the poem years ago I already knew that he had worked with Auden. But I think is is something more that that.

Two days before Christmas around the time of a full moon, it seems like the perfect poem.


Full Moon

No longer throne of a goddess to whom we pray,
no longer the bubble house of childhood’s
tumbling Mother Goose man,The emphatic moon ascends–
the brilliant challenger of rocket experts,
the white hope of communications men.

Some I love who are dead
were watchers of the moon and knew its lore;
planted seeds, trimmed their hair,

Pierced their ears for gold hoop earrings
as it waxed or waned.
It shines tonight upon their graves.

And burned in the garden of Gethsemane,
its light made holy by the dazzling tears
with which it mingled.

And spread its radiance on the exile’s path
of Him who was The Glorious One,
its light made holy by His holiness.

Already a mooted goal and tomorrow perhaps
an arms base, a livid sector,
the full moon dominates the dark.

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