Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Your shadow at morning striding behind you..."

Hello, everyone! Grace here. It's been a busy few weeks for me, but I've been thinking about aubades. An aubade is a morning song of parting, and it's a partner to the serenade, which is sung in the evening. The aubade is one of my favorite things to write and read, so I have two brilliant examples for you today. They are well known, even being linked in the aubade's Wikipedia entry, and definitely deserve the attention.

Our first example is by Phillip Larkin, and it's rather long, so I'll link rather than transcribe this time.

You'll notice most poets opt to title their pieces simply "Aubade", which makes for a rather repetitive listing. Regardless, our next example comes from the fascinating Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, translated from the Gaeilge by Michael Longley. The original can be found--and heard!--here.

It's all the same to morning what it dawns on--
On the bickering of jackdaws in leafy trees;
On that dandy from the wetlands, the green mallard's
Stylish glissando among reeds; on the moorhen
Whose white petticoat flickers around the boghole;
On the oystercatcher on tiptoe at low tide.

It's all the same to the sun what it rises on--
On the windows in houses in Georgian squares;
On bees swarming to blitz suburban gardens;
On young couples yawning in unison before
They do it again; on dew like sweat or tears
On lilies and roses; on your bare shoulders.

But it isn't all the same to us that night-time
Runs out; that we must make do with today's
Happenings, and stoop and somehow glue together
The silly little shards of our lives, so that
Our children can drink water from broken bowls,
Not from cupped hands. It isn't the same at all.

This is honestly one of my favorite poems ever, and I hope it speaks to you just a little in the way it speaks to me.

Some aubades are bittersweet, some are yearning, and others are mere proddings to awake. They're written by musicians, even today, rock and pop artists carrying on a tradition popularized by troubadours centuries ago. Aubades have been written in every style, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Margaret Atwood's "Morning in the Burned House".

When Marian and I began this format challenge last summer, we practiced aubades as well. Hers, traditionally titled "aubade", can be found here; mine, "Ogun et Erzulie", here. Even more examples can be found on, including one by Carl Phillips and one by Thomas Merton.

I've seen rhyme used to great effect, but there is no set rhyme or meter to this form, a nice change from our usual challenge. I'm looking forward to reading your entries all month, and into the next year. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or suggestions, or catch me on Twitter if you're so inclined!


Grace O'Malley said...

I had all day to think about it. No rush, everyone! :)

vivinfrance said...

Good prompt, Grace - broad enough, so who knows what direction it will take. The Larkin poem distressed me in its negativity, though one line leapt out at me "time torn off - unused."

The Irish Aubade is gorgeous, although the first line of each of the first two verses may have lost something in translation.

I shall go away and cogitate,maybe until dawn tomorrow.

Marian said...

ooooh and i am working on a new one!

cosmos cami said...

A great prompt. I love having my eyes opened to the underlying bedrock of poetry by Imaginary Garden.
I liked learning that this was the opposite of a serenade.

Mary Ann Potter said...

I used one of my older poems for this prompt. When I wrote it a few years ago, I didn't know what it was! 8-) Now that I'm familiar with the aubade, I'm going to write another one. I enjoyed resurrecting this poem, though, and I liked reading about its main character once again.

Unknown said...

thank you, Grace. This was therapeutic in an odd way!

Mary said...

I had time to think today, so came up with my aubade. Will visit everyone else's now.

Mary said...

Hmmm, I am wondering why some people who link their poems never visit other who link and respond on their site. This is not such a large site that it would be difficult to make the rounds. Only a few don't, but to me (on this small site) I wonder why.

Anonymous said...

This is a great prompt, a great form - I'm sure I'll use it again...

Grace O'Malley said...

Mary, some of us don't leave comments. I assure you, however, I read everyone's response. Perhaps others are shy, too?


Kerry O'Connor said...

Hi All, I'm back at home. I read this challenge on my phone and have been champing at the bit to read all the responses and write something myself.

I've had a quick read of the comments here, and I must say that I agree with Mary - shyness aside, it does not take too much effort to leave a few words behind once one has read a poem, especially when that person has kindly left their thoughts beneath one's own work.
We all need and want the support of others - it makes the writing experience all the more worthwhile.

Scarlet said...

Hi Grace,

I tried my hand in this form, based on my understanding. Will surely try it again.

Will you be posting about serenade ?

Thanks again.

I will make my rounds in a bit but I do make it a point to visit the other posts.