It's from Fisherman's Soul by Oscar Wilde:

'And we tarried for a moon, and when the moon was waning, I wearied and wandered away through the streets of the city and came to the garden of its god.

Could the above for a moon be understood as for a month?

In dictionary moon has a meaning for a month.

I think in this case the above moon is just a 'moon' in physical sense, not meaning any period of time.

I am teaching English literature, but English is not my native tongue.

  • It does mean a month, meaning a full lunar cycle. You can tell because as the moon begins to wane, i.e. approaches the end of the cycle, he gets bored of tarrying, and wanders away to do something different. Note that like any other temporal expression, for a moon, doesn't have to be precise, it could mean "just a while". But in this case, it's a lunar cycle. I'm not sure what it would mean to tarry for a moon "in a physical sense". To tarry is a verb, it occupies time. The [physical] Moon is a noun. It occupies space. Also in that case we'd expect it to be capitalized.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 15, 2016 at 5:04
  • To tarry for a moon definitely is a time span
    – mplungjan
    Jun 15, 2016 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


I think you hit the nail on the head! It makes sense that "a moon" would refer to (more or less) one month, which is about how long the lunar cycle takes.

The usage of moon as a period of time is supported by Wilde's description of how the main character felt "wearied" when the moon was waning, or return back to its new moon phase at the end of the cycle—that is, the period of time was drawing to a close. Of course, the Merriam-Webster definition just closes the case!

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