Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review of "Goodnight Moon" by James Arthur

Goodnight Moon by James Arthur was offered by Poets.org's Poem-A-Day on July 17, 2013.  The poet admits in his notes that the title is taken from Margaret Wise Brown's beloved book and is inspired by the reading of it to his two-year-old son.

The poem is organized in four quatrains.  The first two beautifully sing some of the universal themes of being the loving father of a young boy--both the joys ("carrying you on my shoulders") as well as the minor sacrifices ("Goodnight Prada shoes").  The poem also nicely describes the transformation that a man experiences when becoming a fun-loving, playful, involved father ("Now I'm almost absurd, a clown").


The third quatrain jarringly veers into abortion territory in a disturbingly matter-of-fact manner, referring to an older sibling ("there was another child...who we threw away").  The tone, mood, and flow of words is the same as the first two stanzas.  The result is chilling and revolting.  In the final stanza, the poem just as jarringly returns to lighter subject matter as though the foregoing mention of an aborted sibling was not a serious matter at all.  I wonder how the poet will feel when his son learns to read and discovers this poem of his father's?

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