An aubade is a morning love song or poem (unlike a serenade, which is specific to evening). It may also be a poem about the separation of lovers at dawn. By some definitions, the aubade evokes daybreak or is a poem about beginnings. Aubades may be charming or pensive but may take on darker tones as well.
John Donne's poem "The Sunne Rising" is an example of the aubade in English. Aubades were written periodically into the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 20th century, the focus of the aubade shifted from a kind of courtly love context into the more nonrepresentational theme of lovers parting at daybreak.
This week, let’s try writing aubades: a morning love song (not necessarily romantic love for this exercise), a poem about lovers separating, a poem that evokes daybreak, or a poem in which dawn or parting are key to the poem’s emotional center.
1. Start by defining your subject and the type of aubade you’d like to write.
2. Think of your aubade as a dialogue between two people, as address to the dawn, or perhaps someone (you, the poet) speaking to one of dawn’s heralds (birds, the sun, morning shadows on your bedroom wall)
3. Some aubades rhyme, but there’s no rule that says they must. Try writing a free verse aubade.
4. Think about what things arrive with the dawn: the responsibilities of the day such as childcare, work, housework, shopping, meal preparation, etc. How can you incorporate some poetic tension with attention to these?
5. Don’t limit yourself to romantic love.
6. Think about how morning brings with it the dissolution of dreams. What does the alarm clock signal other then waking up? What remains of our dreams when morning comes?
7. Think about someone you love leaving (for work, other commitments, breaking up) in the morning.
8. Be creative. Your aubade doesn’t have to be based in fact.
1. Start writing and let your aubade take you where it wants to go. It’s okay to start writing about one subject and then shift to another.
2. Write in the active, not the passive, voice. To do that, it can be helpful to remove “ing” endings and to write in the present tense (this will also create a greater sense of immediacy).
3.. Be on the lookout for prepositional phrases that you might remove (articles & conjunctions too).
4. Limit use of adjectives. Remember that your concept is often already in the noun, and you don’t need a lot of adjectives to convey your meaning.
4. Avoid clichés (and, especially avoid abstractions and sentimentality).
5. Show, don’t tell—through striking imagery, a strong emotional center, and an integrated whole of language, form, and meaning.