A Familiar Element in the Man in the Moon and Forgetfulness Plays

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A Familiar Element in The Man in the Moon And Forgetfulness Plays

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The Voices in our Head

Why do we need to identify speakers in poems? Why can’t we just read the poem as it is and just be done with it? The truth is, we can do this, but to do this would be detrimental to the meaning behind poems. With the speaker, we can gain much more than just reading the words on the page. With knowledge of the speaker, readers gain the experience, society, and beliefs of the person behind the story. Speakers are especially important when they offer something that is different than the “norm”. This is shown in the poems, “The Man in the Moon”(Billy Collins) and “Forgetfulness”(Billy Collins). If one was to just read the poem a first time and be done with them, they would probably be left with a feeling of sadness, or longing. Analyzing and keeping the speaker in mind when reading the poems though gives you a narrative to follow, one that you might not have picked up on without this perspective.

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“The Man in the moon” offers some insight into something that many of us have lost as we have grown older. When people are younger, they are generally more in tune with their creative side, with things from imaginary friends to the floor being lava prime examples of youth’s wondering and imaginative minds. As people get older though, they forget all about this, with different things getting more important to them, whether it be jobs or significant others. The beginning of “The man in the moon” seems to show the speaker reminiscing about how he used to remember the moon in his childhood, with it being a fearful event to even look at it. This is shown in the beginning lines, “He used to frighten me in the nights of my childhood, the wide adult face, enormous, stern, aloft. I could not imagine such loneliness, such coldness”. The author is alarmed by the moon because it is displaying things that are foreign to him/her. Loneliness is not an emotion that usually springs to mind when looking back to childhoods, and to see something as lonely as a single object floating in the sky must seem to be the hyperbole of loneliness to a child.

As “The Man in the Moon” goes on, the speaker describes the moon as if it had matured a great deal. The author describes the moon with phrases such as “a pale bachelor, well-groomed and full of melancholy”. This is very synonymous with the speaker. As the speaker has grown, he has blossomed into a more experienced and mature man, as opposed to the shy young boy that he used to be. With this noted from the speaker, we can see his tone develop. He is insightful and sees the beauty in things most people won’t even bother to look at. The poem is made from the speaker’s different approach to things, acknowledging the past while being kept in the present with his relationship to his surroundings.

When analyzing the speaker in “Forgetfulness”, one gets the sense that even though he acknowledges that the past is constantly slipping his mind, until he/she can no longer remember it at all, he holds no bitterness to this. Although the speaker of the poem holds no bitterness, one can definitely see the sense of longing for it, especially in the last lines, “No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.” There is a definite tone of sadness in these lines, as the speaker notes just how easily an important thought of ours can be lost forever in the seemingly endless fields of knowledge that our brains can hold. This line in particular, “No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.” is interesting as they both mention the moon in regards to maturing. With “Forgetfulness” talking about it in the sense of the body and mind getting older while “The Man in the Moon” talking about it in terms of maturing past it’s childish past.

“Forgetfulness” is very similar to “The Man in the Moon” in the way that its speaker presents itself. Both of the speakers decided to look at a situation from a view not many people look upon. They both were devoted to the subject that they spoke about. Also, they both looked into the past to evaluate the situation that is going on in the present. “The Man in the Moon” looked into the past to see how he has matured in his life, and the speaker in “Forgetfulness” looked into the past so that they could appreciate the present more, with the fact that we forget even the most important things in an instant in mind. So even though you shouldn’t live purely in the past, as the two speakers in the poems showed, acknowledging and bringing those past experiences to the present can do nothing but help.

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