‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’ Children are wonderful. They do not follow the same rules as adults do and most of them do not even know that such rules exist, which allows them to experience the world and the bliss of living at an entirely different level that adults do not have access to. Ted Hughes, the author of this poem, realized this, because he had a daughter, whose memorable memory of the first spoken words was his inspiration for this poem.
The poem makes many references to childhood and its irregular structure might remind us of a child’s inconsistent mind.
In the first line of the poem, Hughes talks about an image of a “small shrunk evening”, which might refer to either little Frieda herself or that the whole evening has been made smaller and simpler, very much like a child’s mind. Furthermore, the evening shrunk to a “dog bark and the clank of a bucket”, with “bark” and “clank” being onomatopoeic words, sounds without meaning.
The author is belittling the evening, while his little daughter is listening, waiting for something special to happen, as suggested by the next line, “and you listening”.
We cannot overlook the use of direct speech from the author. He uses “you” instead of “her”, which might mean that he wants to pull the readers in, to make them see the situation through Frieda’s eyes, so that we too, are patiently waiting and listening. The use of a second person singular emphasizes the importance of patience, as it is written/said directly from father to the daughter.
The imaginary of “a spider web, tense from.. ” could imply the construction of her web of life or make us think of the fragility of children’s minds and how easily they can be influenced by the “dew’s touch”.
The “dew’s touch” might suggest knowledge and experience, as the new web can be easily damaged by a touch of knowledge, as once we know the word for something, we do not need to touch it, which reflects the limits of language. Learning new words and speech is Frieda’s first step into the adult world of rules, restricting her from experiencing the world as before. Otherwise, the tension of the spider web might also suggest the expectation of both little Frieda and Ted Hughes, until the poem climaxes with Frieda’s possibly first words. However, Frieda is not aware of that.
She is “tempted”, just like Eve was, to jump into language, knowledge. The temptation is fragile, much like the “mirror”, nonetheless, it’s there. “There are various connections to the Garden of Eden, as both Frieda and Eve were tempted by knowledge and both lost the bliss of ignorance, as they were bound by morality and ethics of language and society, causing the rift between nature and mankind. The idea of loss of innocence is further suggested by the image of “first star”, which refers to twilight, the time of the day, when day and night, innocence and knowledge meet.
What’s more, these words may also imply the pairs of star and the moon, as well as mother and a child. The mention of “cows” and “moon”, we cannot help but to be reminded of the nursery rhyme “The cow jumped over the moon”. This gives us an idea of a presence of a mother, singing nursery rhymes to her child. Also, cows represent a motherly figure, with their “warm wreaths of breath” and “unspilled milk”. A “wreath” can imply celebratory item or, within Biblical sense, Christ’s crown with thorns.
The peaceful image is further damaged by the metaphor of “a dark river of blood”, that can refer to an image of a line of cows walking in a line, which is also enforced by the enjambment of the line above, making a physical image of a “river”, or a road being dark red due to the darkness, meaning that the climax of the poem will come soon with the appearance of the moon. The child calls out “Moon! ” out suddenly, meaning that she notices that the moon should be coming anytime soon and is calling it, either to make it notice her or to call it out, however, the exact time is not specified.
There are two parent figures in the poem, the cows, as I had mentioned above, and the moon. “Moon” is similar to the word “mum”, which shows the connection to the mother, who is not physically mentioned in the poem, however, her presence can be still felt. Ted Hughes is an artist in two ways – as a poet and as a father. “The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work” – Ted Hughes might be the personified moon in this line, stepping back and admiring the work – his daughter.
However, being amazed also means, that he might get tangled in a “spider’s web”, her growth, which may refer to the problems one has to face when raising a child. Little Frieda “points at him amazed” back, which further implies that the moon is rather a fatherly figure than a motherly, which is represented by the cows, thus the use of “him”. The fact that Frieda is pointing at him amazed as well shows the mutual admiration between the father and a daughter.
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