Final Journal Entries Heather Simpson

Jaham Sings of the Fear of the Moon

By Eric Ormsby

Jaham Sings of the Fear of the Moon

The moon is often used as a symbol for time and the cycles of life, while the hare can represent rebirth or resurrection. Ormsby combines these symbols in the line: “The fear of the moon is the fear of the hare” (3) to say that although you may be able to change and create new beginnings, time will always continue moving forward. Ormsby goes on to describes the transition from fall to winter: “The thin moon hides in the dark of my eye / Night-hidden I heard / its thinness crackle like the stalks of fall / before the hail comes and the first stars fall” (11-14). The first snow is described as when “the first stars fall”. This transition of fall into winter is a common symbol for death and endings. These lines describe how the progression of time, represented by the moon, lies within all of us.

This poem is part of a sequence of poems about Jaham, a nomadic poet. From the title “Jaham Sings of the Fear of the Moon” we know that it focuses on this poet and his contemplation on the moon. There is an overarching feeling of nomadic behavior throughout this poem as it refers literally to the fear of the night. As a nomad, there is a sense that the speaker lacks a sense of “home”. Perhaps Jaham does not have shelter or a safe place to spend the night, which contributes to his fear of the nighttime. Much like the hare fears the night because it is vulnerable to an attack by its predator the fox.


by Sue Goyette

Goyette focuses on the relationship that humans have with the natural world and how we fit into it. She uses the ocean to represent nature and various objects such as a shoe, a diamond, ring, and house keys to represent human life. These objects have so much humanness attached to them. Such as house keys, which bring with them the worry of a mortgage, of bills, of a family. In the first stanza, Goyette points out the barrier between human and nature with the line: "The trick to building houses was making sure / they didn't taste good." (1-2) to illustrate the idea that houses were built to be unappealing to the ocean in order to be safe from the untamed water. This continues with examples of other things the ocean has "eaten" to represent the wildness and danger of nature and how humans put up barriers for safety from nature. The third stanza speaks to the comfort found in nature. The line "It ate promises and rants" (6) speaks to the way that humans turn to the ocean when they are seeking refuge from the stress and pain of their lives. The last few lines: "And the ocean would be calm. It would sleep. Our mistake / was thinking we were making it happy." (17-18) outline the way that humans attempt to satisfy the ocean but that although we may feel a deep connection with the ocean, it does not care about us.

The structure of the poem creates a feeling of the waves crashing to the shore and receding. Often the sentences are broken up by line breaks. Ideas are broken up into separate couplets such as the lines: "The ocean's culinary taste" (2) and then in a separate couplet: "was growing more sophisticated" (3). This break in the sentence represents the ebb and flow of the ocean itself and gives the feeling of being carried on a wave with each couplet.

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