This week brings the last full moon of summer, August 30th, and it’s a blue moon, if we abide by the definition that the second full moon in one month is blue. This presents us with a unique opportunity, because also later this week, on Sunday, September 3rd, Venus resumes direct motion, after nearly six weeks of retrograde, which makes it time for fairy tales and mythologies, and for happily-ever-afters to be realized.
Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Underground” is a perfect fit for all this. Here he makes clever use of Apollo and Daphne, Hansel and Gretel, Orpheus and Eurydice, in the moonlight, in the underground, in that place of hopes and dreams and longing. For now, summer is ending, and in that ending something as-yet-undefined calls to us. For Heaney, it’s the plight of oftentimes ill-fated couples, lover and beloved, that they might somehow find their way to happily ever after, in the moonlight, with the help of Venus, guardian of love.
There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,
You in your going-away coat speeding ahead
And me, me then like a fleet god gaining
Behind you before you turned to a reed
Or some new white flower japped with crimson
As the coat flapped wild and button after button
Sprang off and fell in a trail
Between the Underground and the Albert Hall.
Honeymooning, mooning around, late for the Proms,
Our echoes die in that corridor and now
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons
To end up in a draughty lamplit station
After the trains have gone, the wet track
Bared and tensed as I am, all attention
For your step following and damned if I look back.
~Mary, in the moonlight
Cover image by Arthur Rackham, 1909. From the fairy tale: After the full moon had come up, Hansel took his little sister by the hand. They followed the pebbles that glistened there like newly minted coins, showing them the way.
Hear this episode of The Storyteller’s Night Sky Monday morning, August 28, 2023