Husband, Flying by Night

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Questions and Answers

What inspired “Husband, Flying by Night”?

My husband had gone to bed before I did (I was probably working on a poem!). When I went into the bedroom later, he’d kicked off the sheets, and was on his side, fast asleep. I thought about how peaceful he looked, how far he was away, in his own world, and wondered if he was dreaming, and what of.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Husband, Flying by Night”?

These lines by Samuel Taylor Coleridge came into my mind:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

It was this picture that gave rise to the third stanza’s
“surveys the dark land under, wonders
where the moonlit river runs”

I like the repeated “u” sound in wonder, under runs; the dawn/lawn rhyme; and the half-rhymes of “writhe”, “sky”, “like”, and “piled.”

The title is, of course, a play on Fly-by-Night Husband… who is, in this case, the very opposite sort!

This poem “Husband, Flying by Night” originally appeared in Background, Foreground. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 127 (Winter 1990): 93-93.

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