What Should We Do About That Moon?
A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.
That night a hundred beetles and all their cousins
And did some serious binge drinking.
They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.
Then the ‘night candle’ rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument
Said to his friend – for no apparent
“What should we do about that moon?”
Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music
Tackling such profoundly useless
— Hafiz (Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāz, 145h century Persian mystic and ecstatic poet)
This is a poem by Hafiz that a friend sent me this morning. I thought it was funny and I loved the question posed by the title. It’s a very drunken question because of course there is nothing we can do about the moon unless we are soused to the gills and are in the company of someone who shares our vibe that all is possible, even one’s influence with the moon.
What’s wrong with the moon just the way it is? Well, it’s always floating off somewhere, and changing. Hafiz compares the moon to a candle. These beetles have found some wine and are having a rare good time. They are probably playing quite well on their instruments and being reminded of the passage of time with an end to their party is a huge downer. Their powers are at peak. They are poets extraordinaire, musicians of unparalleled taste and skill. And that darn moon reminds them of the fleetingness of their genius. So I disagree with Hafiz, even though he wrote the poem and should have the last word, I don’t think it is a useless question at all.
I have experienced evenings when the moon seems very close, like in a romantic movie, ten times its normal size, when the magic of the moment seems to stretch forever and ever . . . But alas, nothing lasts and soon the moment does pass and now the moon appears to have receded into a remote corner of the heavens, where is sits there, a turn-coat, a sober two-face. First she is encouraging us. She can’t get close enough (!), egging us on to spout poetry and play our instruments as if there were no tomorrow, to forget that we are just drunken beetles who have found some wine. And then she steps back as if to say, “Come now, little ones, get some sleep. Enough. Soon it will be dawn.” So, it is not a useless question this bug asks his comrade. But it is a sad and profound question: How do we get the moon to stay with the party and share our rhapsodies, our tearful songs and recitations.
The sun should be the one to pass judgment, finding us konked out with drool drying at the corners of our stained lips, snoring and wheezing with bits of bark adhering to our cheeks. The sun is the one to smile and frown and think, There’s those little beetles; they never learn!