Poetry Friday: “December Moon” by May Sarton

Visit Linda at Teacher Dance for the Poetry Friday Roundup.


Winter nights at the farm are eerily quiet.  Save for the occasional wind or ice storm, the farmhouse is a cocoon of silence; the pitter pat of Cat on his nightly prowl, or of Sophie as she pads around the wood stoves in search of the coziest spot, is just about the extent of what constitutes “noise” once evening falls.

You’d think that the creatures whose presence we had felt when our windows were open had simply packed their things and moved away for the winter, as  many of our neighbors have.

Morning, however, reveals all sorts of activity: raccoon tracks all the way up to the back door, deer prints crisscrossing the pastures, cat prints hinting at a new resident in the big barn.  Sophie tears around taking inventory,  outraged at these interlopers on her watch, the “worlds of play” in Sarton’s poem:

“December Moon” by May Sarton

Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

From Coming into Eighty (W.W. Norton & Company).



7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “December Moon” by May Sarton

  1. Still December here in Eastern Washington state on this first calendar day of March. I’ve experienced May Sarton’s snow dances in the night; that is, I have seen the evidence the next morning. Here, it’s tracks of delicate bird feet, the path my cocker spaniel hollowed out before bedtime, the left-over shoe prints of my husband’s shoes on the way to the mail box and back.


  2. Love seeing your place in the dark, that very welcoming light, Tara. I took a pic this week of tracks that messed up that pristine white. Even here in the city, the play happens. Beautiful poem. I love May Sarton. Happy March!


  3. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous poem with us, Tara. One evening earlier this week, I smelled a skunk. Curious, I turned on the outside light to see the skunk and a racoon feasting under our bird feeder. “What worlds of play we’ll never know” indeed!


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