The Moon and the Yew Tree Summary Analysis

The Moon and the Yew Tree Summary Analysis 

The poem, “The Moon and the Yew Tree” written Sylvia Plath speaks about the mind of the speaker. The yew tree that points to the moon represents the symbol of reality and a mood of despair. Let’s see the summary analysis of the poem The Moon and the Yew Tree. 

The Moon and the Yew Tree Poem Text:

The Moon and the Yew Tree

Sylvia Plath

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.

The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.

The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God,

Pricking my ankles and murmuring of their humility.

Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place

Separated from my house by a row of headstones. 

I simply canot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,

White as a knuckle and terribly upset.

It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet.

With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.

Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky –

Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection 

At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up. It has a Gothic shape.

The eyes lift after it and find the moon.

The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.

Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls

How I would like to believe in tenderness –

The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,

Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering 

Blue and mystical over the face of the stars.

Inside the church, the saints will be all blue,

Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,

Their hands and faces stiff with holiness. 

The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.

And the message of the yew tree is blackness – blackness and silence. 

About Sylvia Plath (1932 – 63):

Sylvia Plath was known fairly well in literary circles as a woman of great talent. Only two of her works, “The Colossus” and “The Bell Jar” was published during her life time. The publication of some of her poems a few days after her death made readers and critics sit up with shock. The poems dealth with death and despair. “Ariel” was published and the myth began to grow around the life and poetry of Plath. Her poetry was considered to be confessional, extremist, mystical. Her semi-autobiographical novels “The Bell Jar” and in “Letters Home” show her inner struggles. 

In her poems, the destructive forces of life are countered by the creative forces of art. By the time she left England, she wrote a considerable volume of poetry which is marked by self-consciousness and mannerisms. 

There are a number of bee poems of Sylvia Plath. “The Bee Meeting”, “The Arrival of the Bee Box”, “The Stings”, “The Swarm” and “Wintering” written during her most productive period are based on her experience as a bee-keeper. It is her faith in life’s capacity to endure and combat the forces of hopelessness and despair that Plath has worked out in the bee poems.

Summary of the poem The Moon and the Yew Tree:

In the poem, The Moon and the Yew Tree, the poet associates the moon and the yew tree. The pale moon is the projection of the depressed mind of the poet. ‘Blue’ is the colour of depression. To the poet, all Nature is sorrowful. Fumes and mists inhabit her mind and her house. The moon has a face of its own. It is not a means to an end. It drags the sea like a dark crime i. e. the moon has influence over the sea and the sea turns black, blue and green at the whims of the moon.

Read More  My Last Duchess Summary Questions Answers

The moon is the symbol of illusion. It suggests despair. Twice on Sunday, the poet hears the bells of the church and the bells affirm the Resurrection of Christ. The yew tree is the symbol of reality. It points to the moon. The moon and the poet are linked because the poet is despairing. The moon is not tender to her. The moon’s blue dress gives out ugly creatures like bats and owls. It is an effigy i.e the illusion of reality. It has gentle light but it does not cover its illusion. Even the clouds are blue.

The saints inside the church are all blue. The brightness of the moon is only apparent. The pale moon is the symbol of the poet’s depression. It sees nothing; it does not see the holiness of the saints because it is itself not holy. She is empty and white. The yew tree is the reality. Its blackness and silence suggest what it is. It is the reality and it is associated with sorrow and death. 

The Moon and the Yew Tree Critical Analysis:

“The Moon and the Yew Tree” was written on 22nd October, 1961. The moon is a very important image of Sylvia Plath’s poetry. The moon is seen in various ways in her poetry. In the poem under discussion, the moon is the light of the mind and illuminates the trees of the mind which are black. The light of the moon for her is blue because her mind is depressed. The grasses seem to give way to her in their griefs.

The place is inhabited by fuming mists. The moon is not a means to an end. It is a symbol of illusion. It influences the sea and drags the sea after it like a dark crime. The moon is quiet as if it is in complete despair. The bells startle the sky. The dong of the bells on Sunday affirm the Resurrection and the remains of those affirm the Resurrection. 

The Yew Tree is the symbol of reality. The Yew Tree points upto heaven like a gothic cathedral with pointed arch. The Yew Tree points to moon. The moon is the poet’s mother but she is not like Mary Mother. Blue colour is the garment. It is an effigy, that is, illusion of reality. Its brightness is only apparent. Blackness and silence of the Yew Tree is the sign of death.

The moon sees nothing of what happens inside the church. The saints are blue and their hands and faces are stepped in holiness. The moon bends over the poet with its mild eyes. All aspects of Nature are blue and mystical. The moon and the Yew Tree are connected because the moon is an illusion and the Yew Tree is reality because it is associated with death and forgetfulness. 

Title of the poem The Moon and the Yew Tree Analysis:

The moon is a recurring symbol of Plath’s poetry. The moon suggests the mood of despair and depression. The yew tree is also a symbol of ugliness and blackness and death. But the moon is an illusion, an effigy. Its apparent brightness hides its real aspect of despair and depression.

The moon shows itself as something positive and affirmative but actually it is full of complete despair. Its influence on the sea is as a sinister aspect. The bells of the church are real. They are rung twice on Sunday affirming the Resurrection of Christ. Eight tongues of bells were, as it were, eight names of the saints who sing of the Resurrection. In this way the poet connects second stanza to the last stanza where the saints are described as depressed with their hands and faces stiff with holiness.

Read More  Upon Westminister Bridge Analysis Questions Answers

The moon is indifferent to all things of the earth. As a matter of fact, the brightness of the moon is only apparent. It does not see anything of the earth. It has no influence of its own. She glooms her but she is not as tender as Mary mother. The yew tree is real. It has no illusion. It shows what it is really. It is black and silent. Thus, in the the title “The Moon and the Yew Tree” are linked but they are different in their existence. The moon’s appearance is illusionary. But the yew tree appears as what it is. 

Symbols Used in The Moon and the Yew Tree:

The Moon:

The moon in the poem both symbolises and rejects traditional notions of maternity. It is compared to a “mother” but unlike the proverbial mother figure (e.g “Mary”), it does not offer any sense of care, warmth or tenderness. The pale moon is the projection of the depressed mind of the poet. The moon is symbol of illusion. It suggests despair. The moon and the poet are linked together because the poet is despairing. The moon is not tender to her. The moon’s blue dress gives out ugly creatures like bats and owls. It is an effigy i.e the illusion of reality. 

The Yew Tree:

The Yew Tree is symbol of reality. The Yew Tree points upto heaven like a gothic cathedral with pointed arch. The Yew Tree points to the moon. The Yew Tree traditionally symbolises death and rebirth. Blackness and silence of the Yew Tree is the sign of death. The moon and the Yew Tree are connected because moon is an illusion and the Yew Tree is reality because it is associated with death and forgetfulness. Some readings of the poem also indicate the Yew Tree to Plath’s father and the moon to her mother. 

The Moon and the Yew Tree Quotes and Explanations:

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.

Ans: These are the first two lines of the poem which speaks about the mind of the speaker. There is a “light” of the moon but it is gentle and does not even cover the illusion. The light is rather not warm but cold. Thus the starting lines of the poem is the representation of the depressed mind of the poet. “Blue” is the colour of depression.

To the poet, all Nature is sorrowful. The poet talks about the “trees of the mind”. The moon is the light of the mind and illumines the trees of the mind which are black. The grasses seem to give way to her in their griefs. The place is inhabited by fuming mists. The moon is quiet as if it is in complete despair. The unwelcoming, brutal atmosphere of the nocturnal landscape makes it difficult for the speaker to closely observe and communicate with the objects around her. 

“The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right, 

White as a knuckle and terribly upset.”

Ans: These lines in the poem give a description of the moon which is unwelcoming and upset, silent yet dominating figure in the landscape. The pale moon is the symbol of the poet’s depression. It sees nothing. The expression “The moon is no door” suggests that the moon does not even have enough open space to provide the speaker an exit from her loneliness.

The moon is indifferent to all things of the earth. As a matter of fact, the brightness of the moon is only apparent. It has no influence of its own. It influences the sea and drags the sea after it like a dark crime. It is a mysterious ball of fear, grief and hostility. 

You May Like To Read More:

Leave a Comment