What does the expression “to cry for the moon” mean and Where does it come from?

“Breathes there a man with soul so dead” that he has never done this.

Any such would be utterly lacking in either desire or ambition, one who goes through life just a-settin’ like a Stoughton bottle.

That is, we all, at some time, strive for the impossible or the unattainable, and, perhaps, the disappointment over our inability to answer the siren’s call or to catch up with the will-o’-the-wisp inclines us to follow the lover in Lord Tennyson’s The Princess (1847): “I babbled for you, as babies for the moon.”

It was Charles Dickens, however, who, in Bleak House (1852), was the first to put on record the present saying, even though, undoubtedly, the babies of Adam and Eve and all babies since must have reached out their plump little hands and demanded, in no uncertain tones, that the pretty yellow ball in the sky be placed therein.

Dickens, describing in Chapter VI the actions of Mr. Skimpole, had him say of himself, “Give him the papers, conversation, music, mutton, coffee, landscape, fruit in the season, a few sheets of Bristol-board, and a little claret, and he asked no more. He was a mere child in the world, but he didn’t cry for the moon.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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