Aubade: a poem in which dissatisfaction is expressed that the night is over and the dawn has come – signaling the end of the subject’s time with their lover
The cliche of poetry is that it is all about love and beauty. Ode to this and sonnet for that… There is no doubt about it: poetry is romantic.
And why shouldn’t it be?
People love love. We are obsessed with it. We crave it, looking around corners and checking over our shoulders until we find it. And then we let it fill us up completely – because people love the idea of love.
And we can love other things too, like light. I love warm, clear light coming through the windows while I read or write. I like the feeling of it brushing my cheek in the morning to tell me that it’s time to face the day.
So when I was introduced to the aubade genre of poetry, of course my reaction was positive since it combines light and love – with a twist.
The thing about aubade is that is not necessarily a cheery “rise and shine” poem, but rather the type that invites readers to hit the snooze button one more time. Here light means that your time with your lover has come to an end, but this type of poem resits that end with full force.
It captures a beautiful contradiction. On the one hand: how wonderful to wake up with someone who you love and who you know loves you back. But something else creeps in too: the realization that time is not infinite – even in a happy bubble. The day will go on and its gravity will pull you in, despite admirable efforts to stay snuggled up.
Aubade captures this paradox between love and time. Aubade – quietly, romantically, and with a melancholy sigh – reminds us that even in the most infinite-feeling moments there is an underlying recognition of the finite (a fact which many other types of love literature ignore).
So even though sheets and comforters are strong enough materials with which new worlds can be built, the sunlight still manages to sneak in; draping itself over you until you have no choice but to acknowledge the interruption of the third presence in the bed. You get up. And wait for the sun to be off duty once more. And do it all over again. And again. And again.
Because people love love.