The Moon & the Stars — Things That Light the Night

Darkness versus the Light or Night versus Day are themes that frequently appear in the arts. In most cases, when the theme of the night is employed in a literary piece, the darkness of the night alludes to something sinister that is present in the story.

Dark versus Light – Night versus Day – Themes in Literature

As in everything else, there are variations upon the nighttime themes. When the moon and/or the stars are mentioned in a book, the night’s effects are softened. Often, a degree of magic enters via the vehicles of the moon and the stars.

The Moon and the Stars are the Lights of the Night.

I have never been an all-white or an all-black person. I actually prefer a degree of the night to a blazing light day. But the operative word is “degree.”

I have never liked rooms lit by fluorescent lights or overhead lights of any kind. I rarely turn on an overhead light. I like the more subtle illumination of a lamp’s light. Somewhere in the stew of my memory, the moon took on the essence of magic. and my life’s quest has been that of chasing that magic–and of recreating it in my books and my art.

I often say that the Cow Jumped Over the Moon and the Owls and the Pussycat are two of my favorite stories. I love those stories because of the presence of the moon.

I Nominate the Owl and the Pussy Cat and the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon as Literature’s Greatest Heros

I feel about stars the same way that I feel about the moon-lit night. In my mind, the stars are a trail of pixie dust–a yellow brick road through the otherwise dark sky. Regardless of the language spoken, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is a carol of the elves.

In Tuck Everlasting, the grandmother assumes that the sound of the music box was Elves, and that’s how I feel about the Stars. They are the elves’ footprints across the sky.

In my opinion, the book Tuck Everlasting is a perfect bridge to Tolkien. Tolkien certainly understood the Elves, and the themes of night and the magic of the moon and stars play heavily in his work: The Song of Tinuviel {from The Fellowship of the Ring]:

“The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.

There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled.
He walked along and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.

Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.
Tinuviel! Tinuviel!
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinuviel
That in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinuviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O’er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The story of Winnie and Jess Tuck’s ill-fated romance is right out of the pages of Lord of the Rings:

“Lúthien and Beren are characters in the fantasy-world Middle-earth, narrated by the English author J. R. R. Tolkien. Lúthien is an elf, daughter of Thingol and Melian. Beren is a mortal man. The complex tale of their love for each other and the quest they are forced to follow, triumphing against overwhelming odds but ending in tragedy, appears in The Silmarillion, the epic poem The Lay of Leithian, the Grey Annals section of The War of the Jewels, and in other legendarium texts conflated into the 2017 book Beren and Lúthien, where it plays a central part. Their story is told to Frodo by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings.

“The story of Lúthien and Beren, immortal elf-maiden marrying a mortal man and choosing mortality for herself, is mirrored in Tolkien’s The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. The names Beren and Lúthien appear on the grave of Tolkien and his wife Edith.” Wikipedia

“Moonlight knew no colors and traced the contours of the terrain only very softly. It covered the land a dirty gray, strangling life all night long. This world molded in lead, where nothing moved but the wind that fell sometimes like a shadow over the gray forests, and where nothing lived but the scent of the naked earth, was the only world he accepted, for it was much like the world of his soul.”
― Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

“We love the night and its quiet; and there is no night that we love so well as that on which the moon is coffined in clouds.”
― Fitz-James O’Brien, Classic Ghost Stories by Wilkie Collins, M.R. James, Charles Dickens and Others