You are here:

Poetry/"The Full Moon"- Robert Graves


What is "The Full Moon" by Robert Graves about? What does it mean and does it have a deeper meaning? I was thinking of basing an art project on it but do not really get what some of it means, especially the 3rd and 4th verses.

Dear Fifi,

The speaker goes out to meet a lover, but it turns out that their love, if it ever existed, has now become cold.  Instead of a romantic tryst, their meeting is like statues in a government building glaring at each other.  

Both lovers wear masks of the moon and appear as phantoms to each other. As they gaze into each other's eyes, some "grey distraction" comes between them.  We aren't told exactly what that distraction is but it "cloud[s] the eager flame of love"; the "tyrannous queen above" is the moon, usually a symbol of romance to a couple in love, but for this couple, the moon moves their fate to simply glare at each other as the aforementioned statues.

Hope this helps.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Linda Sue Grimes -- Classic Poetry Aide


Please be aware that my field of expertise is "Classic Poetry." I do not study and write about Hallmark-Card type verse, doggerel, or pornographic versification.

I assist students/readers in understanding the poems most widely studied in high school and college English classes, for example, Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death," A. E. Housman's "Loveliest of trees," Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," W. B. Yeats' "The Second Coming," Rabindranath Tagore's "The Journey," Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," Dana Gioia’s "Words." I direct students/readers to online poetry analyses and/or research sources.

I do not dispense advice on creative writing issues, such as critiquing poems or offering ideas for poems.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject:

Poetry is not so difficult . . . but the claim that "a poem can mean anything you want it to mean" is absurd . . . while there may be room for interpretation, poems are not like clay that you can shape into anything your choose . . . poets express feelings, thoughts, experience . . . the notion that anything a poet writes is as malleable as a piece of modeling clay is insulting and demonstrates ignorance of what poetry, nay language itself, is all about . . . language--including poetry and all other art forms--is about communication . . . if you denigrate "meaning" as a component of poetry, you fail to communicate . . . failure to communicate begins with the lazy mind . . .


2003 - present AllExperts volunteer

2006 - 2015 Suite101, later called

2015 - present, writer at HubPages


Maya Shedd's Temple

1967 Miami University, B.A. Major in German

1971 Ball State University M.A. German/English

1984 Ball State University M.A. English

1987 Ball state University Ph.D. American, British, World Literature, Rhetoric and Composition

Awards and Honors
The Daily Spirit

©2017 All rights reserved.