Yellow Moon

I stand at my window and listen;
Only the plaintive murmur of a swarm of cicadas.
I stand on the wet grass and ponder,
And turn to the east and behold you,
Great yellow moon.
Why do you frighten me so,
You captive of the coconut glade?
I have seen you before,
Have flirted with you so many a night.

When my heart, ever throbbing, never listless,
Had pined for the moonlight to calm it.
But you were a dainty whiteness
That kissed my brow then.
A gentle, pale flutter
That touched my aching breast.

You are a lonely yellow moon now.
You are ghastly, spectral tonight,
Behind your prison bars of coconut trees.
That is why
I do not dare take you into my hand
And press you against my cheek
To feel how cold you are.

I am afraid of you, yellow moon.


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Yellow Moon” first appeared in the Philippine Collegian, and later again in the Philippines Herald Magazine on October 9, 1927. In “Angela Manalang-Gloria: Alive in Both the Ice and the Fire,” published in Philippine Studies, vol. 50, no. 4 (2002), L. M. Grow, senior professor of English at Broward Community College, writes that “Both impressions [of Manalang-Gloria]—that she was romantic and that she was anti-romantic—are simultaneously supportable. The ‘romantic’ motif is present when love brings with it expansion of the self, even to the point of deification, and merging of self with other. The ‘anti-romantic’ motif is triggered by a sense of ‘love’ as an oppressive, imprisoning presence. [‘Yellow Moon’] thrice expresses the speaker’s fear of the moon [. . .] and twice refers to imprisonment [. . .]. Yet the speaker has ‘flirted with you on many a night’—here there is no rejection of love [. . .]. The white, gentle moon evokes tenderness and affection, which the speaker’s breast aches for; the yellow moon symbolizes danger, possibly even death, in its ‘ghastly,’ ‘spectral’ aspect; this the speaker fears.”