10 pages 20 minutes read

Major Jackson


Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2015

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“Aubade” is a contemporary love poem by American poet Major Jackson. Published in 2017 in Jackson’s fourth collection of poetry Roll Deep, the poem first appeared in The New Yorker in 2015. The title of the poem references a form of love song or poem that marks the dawn—the time of day when lovers must separate. Aubades were popular in medieval times, and unlike a serenade, which accompanies the evening and nightfall, an aubade evokes emotions erupting when lovers part at sunrise.

Poet Biography

Jackson is a contemporary American poet who has published five volumes of poetry. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1968 and was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents. Themes related to race, oppression and privilege often appear in his work. Jackson’s interest in the arts is wide-ranging, and he credits his early exposure to music, art, and film to his upbringing in Philadelphia. In interviews, Jackson often explains that through his work as a poet and educator, he seeks to represent all facets of humanity—from the struggles and the joys all people experience, to the events that compromise a feeling of dignity or inspire an impulse to celebrate.

Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont; he is also a member of the graduate faculty of New York University’s Creative Writing Program and the Poetry Editor of the Harvard Review. He has earned many accolades for his poetry, including the Whiting Writers’ Award.

Poem Text

Jackson, Major. “Aubade.” 2015. The New Yorker.


As day breaks, the speaker of the poem addresses his lover, acknowledging that they could start the day with activities like “boiling a pot/of tea” (Lines 1-2) or “reading” (Line 3). The speaker goes on to mention other daily activities and household tasks that could take place on any given morning.

The speaker’s tone changes when they ask the lover to consider what is “healthier” (Line 12): staying in bed together or wasting time on “a tentative fiancé” (Line 16) and other trivialities like “e-mails” (Line 20).

As the poem concludes, the speaker cajoles the lover into staying in bed, pointing out that “tomorrow is never/insured” (Lines 25-26) so therefore, they should enjoy a snack and “glasses of whatever” (Line 27) before “test[ing] all day long/the notion of original sin” (Lines 31-32).

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