Poem of the Day: ‘Half Moon, Small Cloud’ by John Updike

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike is best remembered for his insightful and richly descriptive novels and short stories about middle-class America. But he often applied his distinctive literary style to poetry as well, producing eight volumes of verse over the course of his lifetime. In his poetry, as in his prose, he had a talent for making everyday things seem beautiful and strange.

For instance, here’s a bit of Updike’s “Half Moon, Small Cloud”:

For what is the moon, that it haunts us,
this impudent companion immigrated
from the system’s less fortunate margins,
the realm of dust collected in orbs?

Read the full poem from our October 2006 issue here, and then take a look at some of Updike’s other poems in our archives.