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Poetry readings: opposites poems and playful poems


Poetry readings: A Late Aubade
Richard Wilbur Poet
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This poem, A Late Aubade, derives of course from my marriage. An aubade as we know is an early morning amorous poem or song. This is a late aubade because a man is speaking to his wife in bed at about 11:45 in the morning. A Late Aubade.

You could be sitting now in a carrel

Turning some liver-spotted page,

Or rising in an elevator-cage

Towards Ladies' Apparel.


You could be planting a raucous bed

of salvia, in rubber gloves,

Or lunching through a screed of someone's loves

With pitying head,


Or making some unhappy setter

Heel, or listening to a bleak

Lecture on Schoenberg's serial technique.

Isn't this better?


Think of all the time you were not

Wasting, and would not care to waste,

Such things, thank God, not being to your taste.

Think what a lot


Of time, by woman's reckoning,

You've saved, and so may spend on this,

You, who would rather lie in bed and kiss

Than anything.


It's almost noon, you say? If so,

Time flies, and I need not rehearse

The rosebuds-theme of centuries of verse.

If you  must  go,


Wait for a while, then slip downstairs

And bring us up some chilled white wine,

And some blue cheese and crackers, and some fine

Ruddy-skinned pears.

That's been approved of by quite a number of people, but I remember its being disapproved of by feminists a few years back. They felt that the man in the poem ought to get out of bed and go downstairs and bring up the cheese and the rest.


Acclaimed US poet Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) published many books and was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He was less well known for creating a musical version of Voltaire's “Candide” with Bernstein and Hellman which is still produced throughout the world today.

Listeners: David Sofield

David Sofield is the Samuel Williston Professor of English at Amherst College, where he has taught the reading and writing of poetry since 1965. He is the co-editor and a contributor to Under Criticism (1998) and the author of a book of poems, Light Disguise (2003).

Tags: A Late Aubade

Duration: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008