4: Anaphora and aubade

The term “anaphora” comes from the Greek for “a carrying up or back,” and refers to a type of parallelism created when successive phrases or lines begin with the same words, often resembling a litany. The repetition can be as simple as a single word or as long as an entire phrase. As one of the world’s oldest poetic techniques, anaphora is used in much of the world’s religious and devotional poetry, including numerous Biblical Psalms. – Poets.org
Aubade: A love poem or song welcoming or lamenting the arrival of the dawn. The form originated in medieval France. – Poetry Foundation

Super Bowl Sunday

The skyline is rimmed with a fierce orange paling into a yet-dark sky
And the trees are ink-sketch fractals, bleeding into one flat tangle bridging the dim white      below and the dim blue-black above
And the snow is blank, inert, a solid whiteness erasing so much
And the streetlights echo the scattered houselights echo the brilliant rim of sky
And there’s a few cars, even this early, out on Dodge
And I make a pot of tea, the power light of the kettle burning a dim orange in the muted rental neutrals of my kitchen
And there’s a cloud – a knife, an eel, a battleship – drifting up from the southwest
And smoke from chimneys is blown, dense and heavy with the cold, in falling plumes
And the sparrow that’s nested beside my a/c window unit is my own small dawn chorus, its voice petulant, hoarse and breaking sweet
And the clean wheeling of ravens breaks the geometry of the trees, black against black, as their cries tear the silence
And it’s light enough to trip the automatic cut-off for the streetlights and to dull the houselights down so the sky alone is bright
And at first the sun could be taken for a belated streetlight, a dense orange wedge in a tangle of tree limbs
And it climbs and it pales and it stains the snow, the smoke, my hand around the teacup with gold


I’m doubling up anaphora and aubade this week, since I just ended up writing a poem about the dawn when I was looking for something to do with anaphora. I had started writing a poem about going back to NZ, having bought my plane tickets this week, which would have worked cleverly with the Greek meaning of “anaphora” – carrying back. It wasn’t really coming together though and I ended up writing this poem instead because I happened to be up early and saw a lovely sunrise. The great thing about sunrises (and sunsets) in winter here is that you get some colour back in the world. The snow is pretty and all but, as the picture below shows (the view from my living room), it can also be stark and drab.

I like the anaphora form for the aubade because the repetition of the “and” (which I love so much in the KJV bible), I think, captures the strange, breathless fastness and slowness of dawn, the way that it both rushes past too fast to fully experience it and yet seems to take so long to finally turn into day.



2 thoughts on “4: Anaphora and aubade

  1. This is so lovely! I think with an aubade and anaphora you could have counted that for two weeks…I do not think I can keep up! I am just going to love your one for now. Even though the patterning is only with the start of the lines the lines themselves somehow seem to combine a looseness and a tautness in a way that is quite wonderful, as if you were doing something complicated with syllables or metre that I haven’t grasped, but it must just be the intensity of the images and the perfect detail and concision with which you convey them.

    • I wasn’t trying to do anything meter-wise here – I just rushed it out at quickly as I could before I forgot any of the details and then left it more or less as is (that’s apparently the key to keeping on schedule – don’t revise, the Beats would be pleased). But maybe the meter was in the rush?

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