This week, I wanted to share a poem about the Harvest Moon, which for those of us living the northern hemisphere, shone brightly this past Sunday & Monday nights. The Harvest Moon is an often mis-understood phenomena with various legends and stories about its meaning. The Harvest Moon comes only once a year, and is the full moon falling closest to the Autumnal Equinox (day of equal light and darkness, roughly speaking). Simply stated, the Harvest Moon is unique because there is less time between sunset and moonrise than during other full moon nights. The term “Harvest Moon” likely comes from the benefit to farmers of this continuous light during the busy harvest season.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Harvest Moon” poem tells of what the Harvest Moon represents – a celebration of seasons and a marking of the passage of time using nature as a guide:
It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
All things are symbols: the external shows
Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.