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Alba or Aubade / Mornings Song -Matins / Réveille

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
French Verse 

Verse dedicated to the morning can be found throughout the ages in every culture. This thematic genre seems especially popular with the French.

  • Alba or Aubade (dawn song) is a love poem, specifically the parting of lovers at dawn. Conflict between love and responsibility is at the center of this poetic genre.

    This genre dates back to 12th century France and is the counterpart to a secular Evensong, Serena or Serenade.. The name Alba comes from the medieval watchman's cry "alba" announcing the passing of the night and return of day. The early Occitan troubadour poems ended each stanza with the word.

    The elements of the Alba or Aubade are:

    1. a love poem, most often mourning the parting of lovers while extolling the coming day.
    2. constructed at the discretion of the poet, length, stanzaic form, meter and or rhyme. although often a smattering of rhyme is present without any particular rhyme scheme.
    3. dramatic since it is often dialogue between the parting lovers or coming from a cuckold husband or a watchman' warning. Sometimes dialogue is silent, expressed in images.

      The Sun Rising by John Donne

      An Aubade imbedded in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

      Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:
      It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
      That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear

      Here is an example of a poem written using the Bina frame and following two thematic poetic genres, The Abaude and the Seranade."Ades" Stiilis Binaby DC Martinson

      Shadows by Judi Van Gorder

      As the sun begins
      to light the sky
      unwelcome patterns
      fall across
      the silent wall.
      Her white shoulder
      lies exposed by the fold
      of a rumpled sheet
      and he leans down
      to kiss a small freckle goodbye.
      Slow eyes slide open to tear at the pale
      of this sunrise shadow and drink the image                   
      of his locked shoulders
      as they pass into
      the day.

      Hiding in the Light by Judi Van Gorder

      Sheltered by the dark
      your heat seared
      my sheets.
      Warm rays
      of the rising sun crawl
      across the empty cooling space
      that you abandoned
      in the shadows of dawn.

      We assume our separate lives
      while passion hides
      from the daylight
      in the colors of the chameleon
      and waits
      for the cover of night
      when we reignite, til..

      Aubade - Anonymous 14th century translated from French by Peter Dronke
      found in the Norton Anthology of World Literature
      Volume B (100-1500 AD)

      Deep in an orchard, under hawthorn leaves,
      the lady holds her lover in her arms,
      until the watcher cries, he sees the dawn
      Dear God, the daybreak! Oh how soon it comes!

      "If only God let night stay without end,
      and my beloved never left my side,
      and never again the guard saw day or dawn- - -
      Dear God, the daybreak! oh how soone it comes!"

      "Let us kiss, sweet beloved, you and I,
      down in the meadows where the birds now sing - -
      defy my jealous husband and do all!
      Dear God, the daybreak! Oh how soon it comes!

      Let us create new love-sports, sweet beloved,
      down in the meadows where the birds now sing - -
      until the watcher plays his pipe again.
      Dear God, the daybreak! Oh how soon it comes!

      In the sweet wind that came to me from there
      I drank a ray of my beloved's breath,
      my fair and joyous, gracious lover's breath ---
      dear God, the daybreak! Oh how soon it comes!"

      The lady is delightful, lovable,
      admired by many for her beauty's sake,
      and holds her heart most loyally in love.
      Dear God, the daybreak! Oh how soon it comes!




  • Morningsong or Matins (Latin), a little older than the French morning songs, are formal lyrical prayers sung at dawn. This is the counterpart to the liturgical Evensong or Vespers. The tone is hopeful. The frame is at the discretion of the poet.

    Dedication by Judi Van Gorder

    This day the sun will rise
    on a new intent
    Choices, may they be wise,
    my life is leant.
    To bring to each a smile,
    do one good deed
    Take time to pray awhile
    Your words I'll heed.

  • The Réveille (French - wake up) is another genre of verse devoted to awakening. However unlike the Alba, it is not concerned with the parting of lovers but is associated with the bugle call of the military. It carries an optimistic tone, a get up and get going vibe. As with most thematic genres of verse, the frame is at the discretion of the poet.

    Rev-eil-lee! Rev-eil-lee is sounding
    The bugle calls you from your sleep; it is the break of day
    You've got to do your duty or you will get no pay.
    Come, wake yourself, rouse yourself out of your sleep
    And throw off the blankets and take a good peek at all
    The bright signs of the break of day, so get up and do not delay                      

    Get Up!

    Or-der-ly officer is on his round!
    And if you're still a-bed he will send you to the guard
    And then you'll get a drill and that will be a bitter pill:
    So be up when he comes, be up when he comes,
    Like a soldier at his post, a soldier at his post, all ser-ene.










    Hymn to the Morning by Phyllis Wheatley

    ATTEND my lays, ye ever honour'd nine,
    Assist my labours, and my strains refine;
    In smoothest numbers pour the notes along,
    For bright Aurora now demands my song.

    Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies,
    Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies:
    The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays,
    On ev'ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays;

    Harmonious lays the feather'd race resume,
    Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
    Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display
    To shield your poet from the burning day:

    Calliope awake the sacred lyre,
    While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fire:
    The bow'rs, the gales, the variegated skies
    In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.
    See in the east th' illustrious king of day!

    [His rising radiance drives the shades away--
    But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong,
    And scarce begun, concludes th' abortive song



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