Parting at Morning
by Robert Browning
Parting at Morning Introduction
In A Nutshell
We've all been there. You know, that awkward moment after a really magical first kiss or date that's totally awesome but has to end at some point. How do you end it on a good note? A not-awkward note? How do you, to put it simply, part ways? What to do, what to do…
Well, that happens to be precisely the sort of moment that Robert Browning is referring to in his 1891 poem, "Parting at Morning." His speaker has just had a rather wonderful evening with his lady lover in "Meeting at Night," (the prequel to "Parting at Morning"), and here we see him coming to terms with the dawn of a new day and that somewhat startling afterglow of a great night.
Maybe you've heard frat boys referring to a "walk of shame"—a slightly less poetic way of referring to lovers parting at morning. Well, in Browning's aubade (poem about lovers at dawn), we've got a speaker doing the walk while having a revelatory moment that's reflected in the surrounding landscape. There's no shame to be found.
Instead, our speaker suddenly becomes aware of the outside world around him, which had been temporarily obscured by the passionate intimacy from the night before. Last night was all about the unity he felt with his lover. Now, with the dawn of morning, the speaker is reminded of the "world of men" that demands his attention. After parting with his lover, he's once again gotta be a separate individual with separate responsibilities. Bummer, dude.
So as wonderful as those magical nights may be, we're reminded in this poem that those magical moments can't last forever. Eventually morning comes, and you've gotta shower, brush your teeth, and go to work. Sure, that doesn't mean your all those ooey-gooey, lovey-dovey feelings go away, but it does mean you've got to backburner them for a while while you take care of business.
One last thing: before reading "Parting at Morning," check out "Meeting at Night" for a better idea of what the world looked like to the speaker in his more unified and swoony state of mind. These two poems go hand in hand, and not even dawn could separate them.
Why Should I Care?
Sometimes we'd all like a little insight into the way we feel, especially when it involves love. As it turns out, we're rarely alone when it comes to the common sorts of feelings people experience, whether we're talking about romantic intimacy or the awkwardness of a sudden parting. Not much has changed in that regard, whether we're talking about the Victorian era (Robert Browning's heyday) or now. In a lot of ways then, "Parting at Morning" is one of those universal poems that's just as timeless as the romantic love it takes for its subject.
That sudden jolt of awareness that the sun is shining and you've got things to do doesn't mean that the romantic night you spent with your special someone wasn't, well, special. It just means that, hey, we've got to-do lists to do, and errands to run. In fact, it's good to stretch those arms, take a look around, and embrace the world and all it's responsibilities with that newfound feeling of swooniness you've just experienced. It's okay to be separate but also unified with the person you love. In fact that's kind of the way it's supposed to be, according to our speaker. After all, you can't meet again at night without parting first in the morning.