Background Information

“Moon Lake” was first published by itself in 1949 in an issue of the Sewanee Review literary magazine [1]. Later that same year, “Moon Lake” was revised and published as a part of Welty’s collection titled The Golden Apples [2]. The Golden Apples is a unique collection of stories. While every story is independent, there are different characters, places, and themes that tell parts of the collective history for the fictional town of Morgana.

Morgana, Mississippi is modeled after the traditions and cultures of small Southern towns, which Welty was quite familiar with. Born and raised in Jackson, Misssissippi, many of Welty’s writings explore numerous aspects of Southern life. In One Writer’s Beginnings, Suzanne Marrs writes that “when [Welty] turned seriously to writing, she drew upon her imagination to transform the world of Mississippi into her own fictional world — one removed from the randomness of daily experience, a world that would be shaped by and centered upon issues she deemed crucial” (16). According to Marrs, “Welty is concerned with Mississippi small towns, with their traditional virtues and limitations, and with their slowly evolving nature,” as well as issues of race and gender (99). 

Welty’s work on The Golden Apples began after World War II, in 1945. However, in 1946, Welty had extended stays in San Francisco to visit close friend John Robinson. It was here that “Moon Lake” was written, at least in part (Marrs 107). While writing the stories that would make up the collection, it was not until many of them were written or planned that Welty decided they fit well together (Marrs 109-110).  

“The Song of the Wandering Aengus” by W.B. Yeats

Welty gets the title for The Golden Apples from a W.B. Yeats poem, “The Song of the Wandering Aengus,” which is shown below [3]. 

Many images and themes from the poem can be seen in “Moon Lake.” 

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,Because a fire was in my head,And cut and peeled a hazel wand,And hooked a berry to a thread;And when white moths were on the wing,And moth-like stars were flickering out,I dropped the berry in a streamAnd caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floorI went to blow the fire a-flame,But something rustled on the floor,And someone called me by my name:It had become a glimmering girlWith apple blossom in her hairWho called me by my name and ranAnd faded through the brightening air. Though I am old with wanderingThrough hollow lands and hilly lands,I will find out where she has gone,And kiss her lips and take her hands;And walk among long dappled grass,And pluck till time and times are done,The silver apples of the moon,The golden apples of the sun.

Works Cited

Marrs, Suzanne. One Writer’s Imagination, Louisiana State University Press, 2002.


[1] Welty, Eudora. “Moon Lake.” The Sewanee Review, vol. 57, no. 3, 1949, pp. 464–508. JSTOR, Accessed 23 Sept. 2020.

[2] Welty, Eudora. The Golden Apples. Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1949. 

[3] Yeats, William Butler. “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”