Ah, Moon – and Star!
You are very far –
But – were no one farther than you –
Do you think I'd stop for a firmament –
Or a cubit – or so?
I could borrow a Bonnet – of the Lark –
And a Chamois' Silver Boot –
And a stirrup of an Antelope –
And leap to you – tonight!
But – Moon – and Star –
Though you're very far –
There is one – farther than you –
He – is more than a firmament – from Me –
So I cannot go!
F262 (1861) 240
Here a star-gazing lover contemplates the great gulf between herself and her beloved. She looks at the moon and perhaps Venus, the Evening Star (true, it’s a planet not a star, but it looks like a bright star), and thinks that she could sooner reach them than the man she loves. If he were closer, say as close as the moon, than she could leap and fly through the sky – the “firmament” – like a lark, or chamois, or antelope to reach his side. Alas, he is even more distant, and the poet realizes she can never bridge that gulf.
|photo of Moon and Venus by Vinish K. Saini|
Dickinson begins with a childlike tone, sighing to a personified moon and star in a simple rhyme. She daydreams about leaping out in space. Like a superhero she would take on the lark’s aerodynamic crest, the nimble “Silver Boot” of the alpine chamois, and the fleetness of the antelope. She could do it “tonight!”
But then, again in childish tone and rhyme, she tells moon and star that since the one she loves is even “farther than you,” she “cannot go!” Although the tone is somewhat playful here, the poet is wistful about her difficult relationship. She wouldn’t let a “firmament” stop her, but physical distance does not seem to be the problem. Her lover may be indifferent or simply unavailable.