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English

commentary. Three Lunulae, Truro Museum



Looking at the poem by Penelope Shuttle, the piece doesnt show any type of rhyme but it
has several ideas such as the passing of time, the importance of the gold to the poet and the
unity of women, which are all repeated throughout the poem numerous times. The poem
also shows an idea of lost treasures and the change in cultures, as there are several
references to archeology and treasures.

The passing of time is shown in the poem as the poet shows multiple seasons and the
transition between them for the women mentioned in line eight and the narrator of the
poem. They have got over the winter while I still freeze showing that the women who
were part of the tribes were better adapted to the atmosphere around them because they
were able to pass the winter which the narrator couldnt. The passing of time is shown by
the no barbaric shadows because the word shadows indicates the time of day where the
sun could create shows on the ground. The image of the shadows is later repeated in line
31 sharp shadows breathe hard showing a change in the attitude of the women as at first
the women were lively whereas in the eighth stanza the shadows are sharp, less
welcoming. The passing of time is also shown by the clock in the sixth stanza which goes
on showing the progression on time. The words dusty and spiders web also give an old
atmosphere to the setting and make the museum room look aged as dust and spider webs
are found in places that are untouched for a long period of time. The passing of seasons is
shown when the poet talks about winter in the fifth stanza over the winter while I still
freeze and then about autumn in the last stanza gold remains of autumn. The frost in

line 37 and the frozen in line 18 can both show a method of preservation, a method in
which things can last over a period of time.

This importance of the gold to the poet is shown starting with the first stanza of the poem
where she says, gold so thin, only an old woman would notice its weight. The fact that the
poet makes this comment suggests that she realizes the weight of the gold here means the
quality of the gold, which is important to her. The gold is precious to the poet as quality and
not quantity. The value of the gold is compared to the wisdom of old women, as only they
are able to distinguish its unique value. The poet writes in the third stanza I sense the
mood of many women who wore the new moon showing that the display of these
ornaments take her back to a time of different cultures and make her imagine relate herself
to the women of the time. This is because she understands the value of the gold, and wants
to be part of the era where such values were appreciated more. Another image that shows
the poet is close to the gold is in the seventh stanza where I linger in the locked room of
the gold showing that she imagines the gold all around her, so she feels like the gold has a
strong power because the room is locked and she lingers inside it. The word linger
shows no movement as if she is hypnotized by the amounts of precious object in the room.
This word can also mean that she cannot get away from the gold that surrounds her which
is shown in the last stanza where she enters the thin gold remains of autumn. The fact
that the room is locked also suggests that only certain people have access to these
imaginations. The interest of the poet for the ornaments is shown in the last two stanzas
where the custodian shows that the ornaments are not very important as regalia of this
soil and not for the British Museum showing that they are not important enough to be

displayed at the British Museum and they are only kept as a regional treasure. However,
the poet buys a postcard of the ornaments showing how much she liked them and how
much she connects to them. The idea of the thin gold in the first stanza is repeated in the
last stanza where the poet refers to the leaves on the trees as she says, the thin gold
remains of autumn showing that she always feels surrounded by gold. Although the small
crescents are a rudimentary work of art they are not grotesque but fine pieces of art as
shown by the line threw no barbaric shadows, suggesting that the poet imagines the
women who wear the ornaments as lively and energetic. The thinness of the gold can be
related to the web of the spider in the ninth stanza because they both seem fragile but
actually have the potential to be very powerful. The power of the ornaments is shown by
like 40 in the safe once more suggesting that the crescents need to be locked up because if
not they can be dangerous, very powerful.

This poem also shows feminism as the history of women and the poet presents their
culture. The poet shows this unity in the third stanza where she writes women of the
lunulae showing that there is a certain group of women who use these ornaments and the
gold connects them, unites them because they own a common treasure. The idea of unity
between the women is also shown by many women who wore the new moon suggesting
that these ornaments are a universal object. They give all women of the lunulae a form of
supernatural power, which helps them last in time as shown in line 17. The poet relates
herself to the women because she is locked inside a room but the images of the women that
she pictures are also locked in the box that the custodian puts back in the safe showing that
even if they do not have the same ornaments to connect them, they find another way to

connect. The women are however joined by the end because the poet sees the importance
of gold, her fascination is shown throughout the poem and the old women show the same
interest so therefore the objects they treasure always bring them together.

The idea of culture and archeology is shown by the poem as this old atmosphere gives the
whole poem an aged air. The old women who recognize the value of the thin gold could
show a group of people who are cultured and have knowledge about the past and the value
of certain artifacts. The word bones in the third stanza shows something old, something
deteriorated and the fact that their bones lit up could show the idea of reincarnation, that
the poet is picturing these women as if they were next to her in the museum. The dusty
snakes could suggest something dangerous but because they are dusty, they can also show
something archeological, or something old. The fact that the ornaments are locked again
shows that they are being hidden; they are kept safe from the eyes of visitors, showing that
they are being well preserved. The word regalia shows that the artifacts are something
sacred for the region of Cornwall, they are well taken care of and well treasured but are not
suited for the British Museum, maybe sub-estimating how much they can influence people
who view them.

Overall, the poem shows the connection between cultures from the past and the present
and how to some people, old ornaments are a treasure, as they feel captivated by their
value and unique appearance. The poem also shows the passing of time and how power the
imagination of people can be.

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