Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ted Hughes's 'Full Moon and Little Frieda' - A Full Moon In March

Moon photo © Chris Turner

As I waited for the train tonight in the deathly late-March cold, the full moon hit my eye rather in the manner of a big pizza pie. Given that March seems to be associated with madness anyway (mad as a March hare?), I suppose we will just have to see how things go.

The Guardian recently did a good series of poetry podcasts, featuring well-known poets reading and discussing favourite poems. Simon Armitage did a podcast on Ted Hughes's famous 'Full Moon and Little Frieda', and you can listen to it on this link:

There are a number of Ted Hughes poems which I prefer, but 'Full Moon and Little Frieda', written for Hughes's daughter, has a beautiful innocence to it which I like (although the bleak image of "a dark river of blood" is also Hughesian - his depictions of nature tended to be red in tooth and claw.)

I love the idea of the interaction between the moon and the child - "The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work/That points at him amazed." It seems to me unique among his poems.

Just as I was finishing writing this, the phrase "a full moon in March" went through my head. As I couldn't place it, I turned to Google, which obligingly reminded me that it was the title of a play by W B Yeats and sometimes the (inaccurate) title of one of his poetry collections. Yeats also wrote a number of poems about the moon. All things are interconnected, indeed.


  1. Thanks for posting this - and especially for the link to the Armitage podcast. This poem has been on Cambridge's IGCSE syllabus for a couple of years, and it wasn't popular with any of my classes - probably because it's playful and elusive unlike some of the other selections. I know what you mean about this one - it really gets under the skin.
    Jeanette WInterson had a couple of things to say about it here:

    1. Thank you for stopping by! It is interesting that students might be less interested in "playful and elusive" than (presumably) "dark and angst-ridden", or whatever...! I know that Hughes's Crow poems are popular but those I've never been able to get into (even knowing the kind of context they were written in.) At least, not yet.

      Given that - although I like it - this has never exactly been one of my favourite poems, it was interesting that it popped into my head so quickly when I saw the full moon the other night... Thanks also for the interesting link.