by Philip Larkin
The title of this one tells us that it's going to be a poem set in the early morning hours (an aubade is a kind of morning love poem or a song of dawn). Sure enough, we start out "waking at four to soundless dark." Been there. Done that. Unfortunately, things don't get any cheerier. Larkin's "Aubade" seems to leave out the love aspect of the form and focuses instead on death. Great.
In "Aubade's" five, ten-line stanzas Larkin explores how we deal with death's inescapability. In the pre-dawn darkness, the speaker contemplates his own death—the fact that each day brings him closer to the end. It is a realization that colors every aspect of the speaker's life and thoughts.
In the end, dawn finally comes (thank goodness). The world begins to awaken, and the daily reality of routine and work becomes visible in the dim light. But for the speaker, a sense of life's futility seems to have become as inescapable as death itself.
(Warning: this poem scores five sad-face emoticons out of five on the bummer scale—read at your own risk.)