An Introduction to the Literary Analysis of Edwin Morgans Message Clear and Full Moon

Category: Literacy
Last Updated: 11 Nov 2022
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It is in our very own nature as human beings to inquire as to the existence of beings superior to us, if not utterly perfect, then at the very least endowed with far greater qualities than us. To begin with, in order to portray the previously mentioned facts, two modern poems have been chosen, each of them conveying the theme of divinity, even though of rather different forms of divinity, Edwin Morgans Message Clear and Full Moon and Little Frieda belonging to Ted Hughes. Firstly, Ted Hughes, British Poet Laureate and one of the most famous poets and writers for children of his time (the second half of the 20th century), has managed with superb craft to bring to ones attention the image of a somewhat pantheist deity in contrast to the figure of the mere human being in an apparently light, descriptive poem, Full Moon and Little Frieda.

Hence, even from the very title one can easily notice the tendency of emphasizing the enormous gap between the divine and the human. The title contains five words, symmetrically disposed on the right, and respectively, the left side of the conjunction and, one being able to consider the existence of two different fields in the title. As such, each field begins with an adjective: full and little, which are meant to underline the discrepancy between the two statuses; the divine is full, complete, flawless, whereas the human is little, individually insignificant. Moreover, the conjunction and seems to act like a barrier between the two notions, and one could argue that the poet could have in fact tried to oppose the two of them, using Chaucers technique: for example in the description of the Prioress in his Canterbury Tales , he uses and when trying to put an emphasis on the opposite features of the woman, the contrary facts that made her personality (Full fetis was her cloak as I was 'ware./ Of small coral about her arm she barel A pair of beads gauded all with green,/ And thereon hung a brooch of gold full sheen/ On which was written first a crowned Al And after: Amor Vincit Omnia.). The same could apply to Hughess title.

To continue with, the setting of the actual poem is in the country-side, around a farm. The very first lines are written in such a manner as to suggest the reader the smallness and humility of human life. As such, the poet takes advantage of his poetic license and creates a new image, the small evening shrunk to mundane aspects, emphasizing the ordinary world of men, so very full of restrictions. Furthermore, the third line introduces to the reader a new figure referred to as you, and identified as, in fact, little Frieda who is the observer of all the surroundings, giving much importance to otherwise insignificant elements of nature, such as a spiders web, due to her childish innocence. One could argue that there could be a parallel between the human condition, unnoticeable to anything above them, and the condition of the feeble spider-web and insects. Furthermore, the spider-web is tense, a quality typical of human nature, consisting thus of a personification. Thus, the spider web is given human qualities such as sensuality and eagerness, perhaps at the sight of something greater than itself. The first stanza ends with a rather plastic image: () mirror/ To tempt a first star to a tremor. which could suggest the existence of a shrine to the world above the earthly one, conveyed in the water that can reflect the star, making it tremor in the midst of the nights mystique, just as ancient gods used to respond to the offerings of their followers in their own shrines and temples.

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Proceeding with, the second stanza brings to the readers attention the concrete form of life in the shape of cows, they being the very first ones to disrupt the motionless, still picture with their returning home. Through their description as A dark river of blood, many boulders, the cows become the supreme expression of life on earth, also having a life-giving function through their bearing of milk. The second stanza ends with a most significant line, Balancing unspilled milk, implying the lack of any regrets on the behalf of the cows, them being above it, particularly in that night by reference to the common saying No use crying over spilt milk. The third stanza begins with the expression of childish enthusiasm at the breathtaking sight, having little Frieda crying Moon!; in fact this could be a means of implying the lack of possibility to convey in words the greatness of the world above. Furthermore, the adverb suddenly associated with the repeated noun Moon is an expression of the enlightenment the human being is a subject of in their lifetime during the brief moment during which the divinity shows a bit of itself to the worthy ones of them, among which Frieda seems to be, thanks to her innocence and purity and lack of the typical human surfeit. However, this seems to come as a great surprise to the Moon itself for it has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work. By the use of the noun artist the poet personifies the Moon, also giving it the attributes of a superior entity, in fact, a creator, in awe at its very own doing.

Summing up, Full Moon and Little Frieda is a poem which brings to the readers attention the contrast between the human condition and the image of a divine entity. Secondly, Edwin Morgan, one of the leading Scottish poets of the 20th century, who was also the first Glasgow Poet Laureate, has created a non-denominational, Christianity-influenced poem, Message Clear, in which he portrayed with great success the duality of Jesus Christs being, by the means of the pattern poetry technique. Thus, the poem begins with an apparent question (am i), continued with if, leading the reader into thinking that the poetic voice is full of doubt, uncertain, human. This particular theory is sustained in the following lines as well, by the words hurt, a characteristic of human beings and by the indecision implied by there and/ here and/ here/ and/ there. The next line, I am rife, reinforces the human perspective, the word rife having a rather derogatory tone, which could never be associated with God, according to Christianitys view. Disappointment is brought forth through the next lines, the apparent Christ seeming unsettled by the accomplishments, thinking of himself as a mere sect/ a mere section/ of the life of/ men.

If the above could be considered as a pseudo first stanza then the following one brings out a gradual growth of confidence in his divinity. Even though it begins with a feeling of captivation, of one being subdued through the lines sure/ the die/ is/ set, as though the voice would have no choice but to obey strict orders, it continues with I am the surd/ at rest, the infinite and beyond rational image of the surd suggesting for the first time the divinity of his nature. The following lines list a series of actions that a human undertakes (act, run, meet, tie, stand) that are opposite to I am Thoth/ I am Ra/ I am the sun/I am the son, that actually imply his perfection: Jesus Christ has managed to unite all other gods of different mythologies subjugating and overthrowing them. Furthermore, I am the erect one if/ I am rent/ I am safe suggest his ability to rise above any human attacks and to overcome fear and pain, being safe from any mundane harm due to his god-like figure. This is followed by his very first attributes as the Christ: I am sent/ I heed/ I test/ I read implying even though he was sent by the Father whose son he is and who he undoubtedly heeds, he also tests and reads perhaps those around him, meaning that he is God, with his very own manners of being.

The following enumerated nouns have different meanings. As such, a thread could be a reference to the fragility of human life, perhaps even his own human life, during which only a stone could make him cope, it being the faith and moral set of values that one needs to build their lives upon. This is followed by a tread which brings in mind his very own journey from human to divine, from birth to death and resurrection, all a series of steps taken in due course in order to eventually reach a throne, his position as God next to his father. The very last lines bring to us his finality his divine condition conveyed by the very last sentence I am the resurrection and the life. This particular last line is the core of the whole poem, and, one could say, of the whole Christian faith. It is also the only fully comprehensible sentence which could suggest the final state of enlightenment and the fact that the entire rest of the poem is made from the very letters of it is a metaphor for the fact that God contains all truth and all there is. Summing up, this poem has a central theme the contrast between the human Jesus and the divine Jesus and his initiation to the status of God. In conclusion, both poems consist of contrasts between different entities and bring to the readers attention a fact most debated and known the human being must aim towards divinity and the whole set of morality that encloses, this being the ultimate goal. However, one could never reach the actual status of divinity, for one is restricted by the limitations of human nature and thus the metaphysical yearning is never actually fulfilled but only consists of a languish that dawns on the fate of humans, never reaching their wholeness.

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An Introduction to the Literary Analysis of Edwin Morgans Message Clear and Full Moon. (2022, Nov 11). Retrieved from

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