Acquainted With the Night – Summary and Analysis

Summary and  Analysis of Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

Robert Frost was an imminent American poet known best for his depictions of rural life. Honored with four Pulitzer prizes, he was conferred several other honors too during his life time. While nature frequently finds mention in his poem, he uses it quite often to express the melancholia in human life. Several of his works won critical acclaim for exploring the loneliness in people’s lives. While his works are often satirical, critics also noted a sympathetic humor towards his characters in them. Acquainted with night is a similar poem which deals with the melancholia of night and presents it with chilling starkness. Another notable thing about the poem is its use of ‘Terza Rima’.

The poet expresses his feelings as he has experienced it while taking a solitary walk at night. The night, while it offers some peace and solace, its silence feels like that of a cemetery when the entire town is asleep. The tone of the poem is both romantic and melancholic but intended to create a soothing experience. The poet says he is acquainted with night meaning how it feels to be alone at night and walking down the streets in the rain farther than the last city light.  The city lanes wear a sad and lonely look at night and he has walked through the saddest of them and passed by the watchman who alone stands on guard but the two cross each other without raising his eye and without explaining his solitary presence there at night. Apart from an interrupted cry making him stop, there is no noise, no sound to tease the silence of night. However, he does not know the noise because it does not call him or bid him goodbye. He is like a stranger and the city becomes a stranger at night. Far away up in the night sky, a star shines with full brightness and hangs there like a lighted clock. It felt like the star was telling loud that the time is neither wrong nor right. It shows the poet’s indifference to what is going on in the world.  It is still only him and the lonely night. The main theme of the poem is the loneliness in human life.

The poem speaks in a sad and yet romantic tone. A walk down the streets on a rainy night feels romantic and strikes a connection with nature. The poem also seems to imply that the human life has grown lonelier because of having lost its connection with nature. A walk at night seems to be the poet’s way of finding solace in an otherwise unconcerned and pointless life. What he is trying to find is unclear but still he shows that life is lonelier than ever and man has become a stranger to his own shadow. Neither he speaks nor do the streets, and except a few odd noises coming from a distance there is no sound. The watchman is alone and when he passes by none of the two bothers to speak, each feeling lost in his own world. The poet looks like searching for something that could make him feel connected.

Rhyming scheme – The rhyming scheme the poet uses in this poem is called ‘Terza Rima’. In ‘Terza Rima’, there are three lines in each stanza and the last stanza is a couplet or made of a single line. The rhyming scheme is like aba, bcb, cdc, ee or aba, bcb, cdc, e. the number of stanzas can be higher without a limit. The last stanza picks the rhyme of the middle line from the last tercet (three lined stanza).

Sources:

Robert Frost –Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frost)

Terza Rima – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terza_rima)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47548/acquainted-with-the-night

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.