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Moon in the gloaming | by colinjcampbell
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Moon in the gloaming

Photograph taken looking over the River Clyde from Inverkip, Scotland.


The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon


Listen to Tolkien reading this poem


The man in the moon had silver shoon,

and his beard was of silver thread;

With opals crowned and pearls all bound

about his girdlestead,

In his mantle grey, he walked one day

across a shining floor,

And with crystal key in secrecy

he opened an ivory door.


On a filigree stair of glimmering hair

Then lightly down he went

And merry was he at last to be free

On a mad adventure bent

In diamonds white he had lost delight

He was tired of his minaret

Of tall moon stone that towered alone

On a lunar mountain set.


He would dare any peril for ruby and beryl

To broider his pale attire

For new diadems of lustrous gems,

Emerald and sapphire.

He was lonely too with nothing to do

Bu stare at a world of gold

And heark to the hum that would distantly come

As gaily round it rolled


At plenilune in his argent moon

In his heart he longed for Fire:

Not the limped lights of wan selenites;

For red was his desire,

For crimson and rose and ember-glows,

For flame with burning tongue,

For the scarlet skies in a swift sunrise

When a stormy day is young.


He'd have seas of blues, and living hues

Of forest green and fen;

And he yearned for the mirth of the populous earth

and the sanguine blood of men.

He coveted song, and laughter long,

and viands hot, and wine,

Eating pearly cakes of light snowflakes

And drinking thin moonshine.


He twinkled his feet, as he thought of the meat,

Of pepper, and punch galore;

And he tripped unaware on his slanting stair,

And like a meteor,

A star in flight, ere Yule one night

Flickering down he fell

From his laddery path to a foaming bath

In the windy Bay of Bel.


He began to think, lest he melt and sink,

what in the moon to do,

When a fisherman's boat found him far afloat

To the amazement of the crew,

Caught in their net all shimmering wet

In a phosphorescent sheen

Of bluey whites and opal lights

And delicate liquid green.


Against his wish with the morning fish

They packed him back to land:

'You had best get a bed in an inn,' they said;

'The town is near at hand.'

Only the knell of one slow bell

High in the Seaward Tower

Announced the news of his moonsick cruise

At that unseemly hour.


Not a hearth was laid, not a breakfast made,

And dawn was cold and damp.

There were ashes for fire, and for grass the mire,

For the the sun a smoking lamp

In a dim back-street. Not a man did he meet,

No voice was raised in song;

There were snores instead, for all folk were abed

And still would slumber long.


He knocked as he passed on doors locked fast,

And called and cried in vain,

Till he came to an inn that had light within,

And he tapped the window-pane.

A drowsy cook gave a surly look,

And 'What do you want?' said he.

'I want fire and gold and songs of old

And red wine flowing free!'


'You won't get them here,' said the cook with a leer

'But you may come inside.

Silver I lack and silk to my back–

Maybe I'll let you bide.'

A silver gift the latch to lift,

A pearl to pass the door;

For a seat by the cook in the ingle-nook

It cost him twenty more.


For hunger or drouth naught passed his mouth

Till he gave both crown and cloak;

And all that he got, in an earthen pot

broken and black with smoke,

Was porridge cold and two days old

To eat with a wooden spoon.

For puddings of Yule with plums, poor fool,

He arrived so much too soon:

An unwary guest on a lunatic quest

From the Mountains of the Moon.


~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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Taken on July 10, 2005