On Morning

Table of contents

1. On Morning

The orb of light returns--Aurora waves her hand
To her fair followers--sweetest Flora's2 band.
Her breath is like the odors of a rose,
She from her lips, the fragrant Zephyr4 blows
Her pearly tears, all trickling on the ground
While Echo's6 voice the neighboring hills resound
The linnet chirps, sweet welcome to the morn,
While Ceres8 gathers in the golden corn,
And murmuring waters mingle in the strain
And joy to sing in fair Aurora's train--
She rolls her car, in Heavenly realms above
Where Angels ever, sing their Makers love
Rest sylvan muses, rest your early lay
And close your verse, in thankful, glad array!

2. Note on the text

Decades before EBB decided to name the protagonist of her 1856 novel-in-verse “Aurora Leigh,” Aurora, Greek goddess of the dawn, figures prominently among other powerful female goddesses in her juvenilia, as in this exuberant poem dated 1815. In another, “On the First of May—Mama’s Birthday—1815,” “Aurora sings in her triumphal Car” (see HUPS 1: 86-87, 91-92; also 81, 97).

3. Explanatory Notes

Flora Roman goddess of flowers, associated with spring.

Zephyr the west wind, son of Astraeus and lover of Flora; by extension any soft, gentle wind.

Echo a chattering nymph whom the goddess Hera punished by limiting her speech to repeating others’ words. Grieving over her unrequited love for Narcissus (who fell in love with his own reflection in water), Echo finally faded into nothing more than echoing sound.

Ceres Roman name of Mother Earth, the Corn Goddess, identified with the Greek Demeter.

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Date: 04-Mar-2009
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