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Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost

Poem analysis

katie pitzman

on 21 November 2012

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Transcript of Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost

By Robert Frost Acquainted with the Night THE POEM Theme Paraphrase Attitude Connotation Shifts Title I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain --and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night. While the speaker of "Acquainted with the Night" is acquainted with the night, his surroundings are all very distant, and, in the poem, he has no friends or family. He avoids the watchman, who is the only other human being in the poem. He hears a cry, but the poem becomes even more lonely and isolated when he reflects that the cry is not for him. It seems that the speaker is acquainted with the night, but he is not friends with anything in this world. The speaker is familiar with the night, because he has walked to and from an unknown place in the rain. On his walks he has walked past the last lights of the city. Lonely In the third Stanza the speaker stops walking. The poem then goes from describing his surroundings and how alone in them he is. He stops and listens to a far away cry, wishing that the cry was for him. Before Reading the Poem the title gives the reader the impression that the poem is going to be a dark one. Acquainted with the night sounds like it is going to be the story of a night owl. The term acquainted means to be familiar with but not necessarily like.
To be acquainted with the night also gives the reader the impression that the person acquainted with the night is lonely because night is often related to solitude in literature.
By the end of the poem the meaning of the title is revealed. This same line plus some begins and ends the poem. By opening and closing his poem with the same line Frost emphasizes the unpleasantness of the subject's circumstances. The subject is depressed and lonely not just walking. Stanza #1 Stanza #2 Stanza #3 Stanza #4 Stanza #5 The speaker has looked down the saddest city streets and when he passes a watchman he averts his eyes unwilling to explain why he's walking at night. The speaker stops walking and the air goes silent no longer filled with the sound of his own footsteps. When suddenly he hears a cry from another street but it's so far away that the sound is distorted and he cannot make out the words. Sadly the speaker notices the cry is not directed towards him and he looks up to an unearthly height (probably the sky) and sees a luminary clock lighting up the dark night. Yet the luminary clock says the time is neither wrong nor right and the speaker repeats his familiarity with the night. Diction Imagery Rhyming Symbolism Walking Walking is a symbol of perseverance in the poem because, though the speaker clearly does not enjoy wandering the streets at night he continues on. Also the very fact that he is walking versus running down the creepy streets or sitting and enjoying the quiet and the sight of the luminous clock is symbolic of pushing on and persevering Self Isolation In this poem isolation is symbolized by the subject's two non encounters with other people. The fact that the walking person averted his eyes from the watchman that potentially could have cared about his problems, seem even more isolated from society as he walks the dark empty streets of the city. Metaphor This physical distance of the man outside the city creates a metaphor for the speaker's psychological distance. In addition to being lonely, and literally not close to people the speaker feels like he is disconnected and removed from society. Distance = Loneliness Night = Depression Through out the poem the night is an extended metaphor for depression. The man's steady walk through the night is his struggle with depression. Word Choice Walking he has passed the furthest city light, but is somehow still within the city. Then the cry is faraway again emphasizing distance. And at the end of the poem the luminary clock at an unearthly distance, makes him feel even further away. The significance of walking is that he made the distance himself. He removed himself from society. Alliteration " have stood still and stopped the sound of feet" In this line the author uses alliteration to emphasize the stop the subject has made. The only time he mentions stopping was to listen to a distant cry that turned out not to be for him. The alliteration draws the readers attention to his hope that the crier was shouting to him and also his disappointment at the realization it wasn't. "out in rain -- and back in rain" The repetition of the line in the rain makes the reader imagine the sad seen of the speaker walking, on many occasions, all alone in the rain. "luminary clock against the sky" The luminary clock against the sky is a contrasting image compared to the others in the poem. This luminary clock is the only source of light managing to reach him. It is on he cannot walk passed because it is most likely the moon. By describing it as against the dark night sky the speaker sees to see it as hope of escaping his depression, but it is further away than he has walked and that makes it unreachable. ABA BCB CDC DAD AA The repetitive rhyme scheme in this poem is important because it contributes to the feeling of the speaker's recurring depression. Also the fact that the first and last lines are the same is significant because it presents the idea that the speaker's depression not fading. There is not resolution at the end of this poem.The speaker's depression and loneliness is unending. Rhythm iambic pentameter-the regular rhythm of the poem reminds the reader of the speaker's footsteps as he walks. The repetition of "I have" in the first 5 lines emphasizes that the speaker walks alone at night, probably many nights. Dark, Depressed, Sad Isolation
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