The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018


Aubade: A lyric or song delivered at dawn, generally involving lovers who must part or, occasionally, one lover who asks the other to wake up. The German equivalent of the aubade is the Tagelied.

The aubade is related to the Provençal alba. The alba laments the end of the lovers’ night together, whereas the aubade tends to involve a joyful announcement of the new day.

EXAMPLE: William Shakespeare’s “Hark, hark, the lark,” from Cymbeline (c. 1610):

Hark, hark, the lark at heaven’s gate sings,

And Phoebus ’gins arise,

His steeds to water at those springs

On chaliced flowers that lies;

And winking Mary-buds begin

To ope their golden eyes;

With every thing that pretty is,

My lady sweet, arise;

Arise, arise!

The best known examples of the alba in English are John Donne’s “The Good Morrow” (1633) and “The Sun Rising” (1633), which begins:

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,

Why dost thou thus,

Through windows, and through curtains call on us.