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Aubade

Aubade

by Philip Larkin

Isolation Theme

"Aubade"'s speaker seems like kind of a loner. If you woke up at 4AM and couldn't go back to sleep, would you just stare into the abyss or would you do something—text, tweet, update your Facebook page, connect with someone by any means necessary? This guy doesn't do that. True, the poem was written in the 1970s, so lots of those options weren't invented yet, but you get the feeling that, even if they were available, he'd still just be sitting there staring at the dark windows. The speaker is alone, isolated with his anxiety and fear of death—definitely a bad night.

Questions About Isolation

  1. If you were in the speaker's situation, what would you do to feel less isolated, more connected with your fellow man? Remember, we're talking pre-internet here. You'll have to dig a little deeper.
  2. How would this poem be different if the speaker mentioned a friend or a lover? How would the poem be different if someone else was actually in the room with the speaker?
  3. Is there a connection between the speaker's physical isolation, alone in his room late at night, and the poem's primary theme of death? If so, what's the link?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"Aubade" is as much about feelings of isolation in life as it is about fear and dread of death. The speaker longs for connection. This poem argues that it is only through connection with others that the knowledge of approaching death can be endured. Can a speaker get a Facebook friend?

The speaker's physical and emotional isolation functions in the poem as an extended metaphor for death—the ultimate isolation. Bad times.

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