Study Guide

A Late Aubade Stanza 2

By Richard Wilbur

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Stanza 2

Lines 5-6

You could be planting a raucous bed
Of salvia, in rubber gloves,

  • Lines 5 and 6 are more statements about what could be happening, rather than what's actually going on. 
  • Two vocab words need some explanation here: "raucous" means rowdy or boisterous. "Salvia" is a plant in the mint family that grows super-quickly and is widespread. 
  • So this "you" (let's say it's a woman) could be reading, shopping, or gardening. Again, these are pretty normal, everyday things, but things that aren't necessarily connected. 
  • The line break is pretty interesting in line 5. Putting "raucous" and "bed" together might drag some of our minds into the gutter.
  • The literal meaning of the line has to do with gardening, but there's definitely a sneaky PG-13 slip in there.

Lines 7-8

Or lunching through a screed of someone's loves
With pitying head.

  • Line 7 is the first somewhat confusing line. Let's break it down. First of all, a "screed" is a long and tedious speech. So, if she's lunching through a screed of someone's loves, it might mean that she's is having lunch (lunching) while someone is giving a long speech or complaint about his/her love life. 
  • The "pitying head" is a little easier to unravel—she's listening to this person go on and on about his/her love life, and she's just nodding along sympathetically. 
  • Again, this is something she's not doing. It's part of the long and hypothetical list that the speaker has dreamed up. We still have no clue what she's actually doing. Put your patient pants on; we might not find out right away. 
  • It looks like Wilbur did stick to the ABBA rhyme scheme. In this stanza, "bed" rhymes with "head" and "gloves" rhymes with "loves." Keep an eye out and we'll let you know if he decides to change it up at all.

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