Ten Moons / Sasha Dugdale

Poet, playwright, and translator Sasha Dugdale was born in Sussex, England. She has worked as a consultant for theater companies in addition to writing her own plays. From 1995 to 2000, she worked for the British Council in Russia. She is author of the poetry collections Deformations (2020), Joy (2017), winner of the 2017 Poetry Book Society Winter Choice Award; Red House (2011); The Estate (2007); and Notebook (2003). In The Poetry Review, Claire Crowther praised Joy: “These compelling stories of strange happenings in an almost imperceptibly strange style make your mind understand foreignness as our process. Sasha Dugdale is a wise bard and her book is a civilising read.” Dugdale’s honors include the SOA Cholmondeley Award and the 2016 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (for “Joy”).

Dugdale has translated Russian poetry and drama, including Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. From 2012 to 2017, she served as editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, and she is co-director of the Winchester Poetry Festival. (From Poetry Foundation)


And then came the ten moons 
Full in the sun’s glare, and the seraphim, 
And it was light all night in the orchards 
And on the plains and even in the towns 
And mankind rejoiced, because it was now the case 
That the wrecking and equivocating could carry on 
The pale night long. Mankind rejoiced 
And went forth to those places twelve hours of light 
Had not made it worth the while to despoil 
And gamboled collectively on the cliff tops 
And regarded the night-broiling of the sea 
Hitherto forbidden, but now opened in festival. 
Half the world’s time unpeeled and exposed 
So fruit might ripen faster and trees flourish higher 
And forced photosynthesis green all the land. 
Then night ramblers, night-sun-worshippers, 
Night-motorists fanned out and made the most 
Of spectral light, which bleached out stars and even 
The cozy old moon herself, who had 
Once held a sickle broadside to the sun, and now 
Was a hollow daytime shadow.   
Only a few old believers slept 
Hand in hand, shoulder to breast,   
As if their lives depended on it, knowing yet 
That the morning would bring nothing 
Because the day knew no beginning 
And had no end.

/ Photo: Courtesy of the author

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