Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Morning has broken

We're in the second week of our adjustment to daylight savings time, so you think I'd be getting used to waking up and going out in the dark again (just when it was starting to get light about the time I wake up). But it's raining this morning, so it's even more dark than usual.

As I was driving home in the dark from driving my kids to school, I found myself thinking about Jonathan Swift's poem "Description of the Morning" and Philip Larkin's "Aubade," with their sneering references to the traditional feeling of waking up in the morning to a new, fresh start (like Oliver in the musical, at the window of his luxurious bedroom in the morning after he has been rescued from Fagin). Any reluctance to face the day in traditional aubades is a reluctance to leave the warm bed with your lover still in it, like in Romeo and Juliet's "lark or nightingale" scene or John Donne's poem "The Sun Rising." But in "Description of the Morning," the servant-girl "Betty from her master's bed had flown,/ And softly stole to discompose her own," and Larkin's speaker is rising to regret "the love not given."

This kind of feeling seems to me to be appropriate on the day that the Disney movie Enchanted comes out on DVD. Instead of Cinderella singing to the mice and the birds, the princess in Enchanted has to sing to the animals available to her--rats, pigeons, and cockroaches.

Well, today you have to get up and put on whatever clothes you can stand to wear again (unless you can whip up something made from curtains), because already

telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

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