The Path to the Moon, by Madeline C. Thomas

The Path to the Moon
By Madeline C. Thomas

I long to sail the path to the moon
On a deep blue night, when the wind is cool:
A glist’ning path, that runs out to sea.
Silver the sails to carry me,
To carry, carry, carry me over the sea.

So will I sail, on a starry night
On the path to the Moon, a seabird’s flight:
Skimming the waves, where the fishes play,
Travelling on, for many a day;
Silver the sails to carry me,
To carry, carry, carry me over the sea.

Ever since I was a young girl I have been drawn to poetry about roads, paths, and rivers, and poetry expressing a sense of wandering or longing.  At the time I met “The Path to the Moon,” I was quite young and could only imagine what a moon-path might be like, but later in life I was privileged to see a real one.  I was flying in an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean—I forget now where I was going—and late in the evening I looked out the window to see the full moon reflect a perfect path across the water below.  “Look,” I said softly to my sister, and pointed.  “A moon-path.”  We were both silent for a moment and a memory of this poem returned to my mind.  I remember a keen desire to sail on that moon-path; to feel the night-breeze in my hair; to see the stars above and the waves beneath. 

Alas, the fulfilment of that desire was impossible at the time, considering the circumstances.  But what do you think:  is not the sweetness of longing in the fact that one cannot yet obtain what one longs for?  For the very nature of longing requires a yet-unobtainable object.  If a man obtains that which he desires, he need desire no longer.

8 thoughts on “The Path to the Moon, by Madeline C. Thomas

  1. What lovely thoughts, Nicole. The last paragraph reminds me of something I recently read in Phantastes, by George MacDonald. He says: ‘As in all the sweetest music, a tinge of sadness is in every note. Nor do we know how much of the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows. Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truth must be deepest joy… Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love.’ It seems to tie into what you were saying about the sweetness of longing. I think longing has that tinge of sadness too. Sometimes, we even linger with the longing without searching for the fulfilment ‘for very love’ of the longing.

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    1. That is a beautiful quote. It really does express that unexpected balance of sweetness and sorrow which is blended in longing. Thank you for sharing, Elise!

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    1. Amen to that!  I’ve learned that longing is fundamentally human, but also fundamentally Christian.  C.S. Lewis says “We do not want merely to see beauty…[but] to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”  We long because we are, in Lewis’s words, “On the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door.”  Longing is something which we, as Christians, should have because it reminds us of who we are—filled with Christ, but still living a fallen world.

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  2. This poem has been one of my favorites from the day you first shared it with me. I’ve thought of it often, for I have many fairy tale ideas about moon-paths. One day I’ll write them down in attempt to satisfy a longing that can never be fulfilled in this life.

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    1. Isn’t there something so mystical about a moon-path? It is almost like the world remembered for a moment that there was some magic left in it. Definately the perfect dust to make fairy tales out of!

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