Acquainted with the Night

Acquainted with the Night

by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have out walked 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.

Summary of Acquainted with the Night

  • Popularity of “Acquainted with the Night”: This poem was written by Robert Frost, a famous American poet. It was first published in 1928 in West-Running Brook. The poem comprises the narrator’s experience with depression, an ordinary idea of isolation and his nocturnal strolls. It also explains how separation cuts people off society. However, the popularity of the poem lies in the fact that it deals with the phenomenon of insurmountable depression and anxiety.
  • “Acquainted with the Night” As a Representative of Loneliness: As this poem is about isolation, the lonely speaker walks the city streets at night, trying to escape from his anxiety and unexpressed fear. He also tries to find something to confront him but fails. He listens to the sounds of that city but soon acknowledges that these cries are not for him. Also, he passes by a watchman but avoids eye-contacts as if he hesitates to express himself to somebody. Finally, he gazes up at the moon and says time has no meaning for him. He is wrapped in never-ending sorrow. What enchants the reader is the way he brings into light the natural world and human feelings.
  • Major Themes in “Acquainted with the Night”: Sadness, isolation, and hesitation are some of the significant themes featured in the poem. The poet has used aplenty of literary elements to fill his poem with these ideas. The gloomy speaker walks in despair and does not want to be known. He has detached himself from the society. Therefore, he is going through a mental trauma which does not allow him to catch the track of healthy living. It is due to his inner sorrow and intense feelings that he gets stuck in the cycle of loneliness, which seems to lost forever.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Acquainted with the Night”

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings and also help the readers understand those more profound meanings. Robert Frost has also employed some literary devices in this poem to show the anxiety of the speaker. The analysis of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonants sounds in the same line such as the sound of /d/ in “I have looked down the saddest city lane” and the sound of /n/ in “I have walked out in rain—and back in rain”.
  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. The poet has used visual imagery in the poem such as, “I have walked out in rain—and back in rain”, “One luminary clock against the sky” and “Came over houses from another street” to describe the weather and anxiety of the speaker.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet.”
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is to use symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings. Here, “luminary clock” is a symbol of time, “night” symbolizes darkness or speaker’s depression and “moon” symbolizes hope.
  • Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of any word or expression in the poem. Frost has repeated the word “rain” in the second line of the poem to emphasize his point.
  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such the sounds of /a/ and /i/ in “I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.”
  • Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. There is an extended metaphor where the speaker’s loneliness and isolation are compared with “night”.
  • Enjambment: Enjambment refers to the continuation of a sentence without the pause to the next line in a couplet or stanza such as,

“I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.”

The closer glimpse of literary analysis shows that Frost has skillfully employed these literary devices to make the themes impactful. The effective use of these elements has made it appealing for the readers.

Analysis of Poetic devices in “Acquainted with the Night”

 Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Sonnet: A sonnet consists of fourteen lines made up of three quatrains and one rhyming couplet.
  2. Terza Rima: Terza rima is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Italian poetry. There are four three-lined stanzas in the poem.
  3. Rhyming couplet: There are two constructive lines in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which generally reveals the central idea of the poem such as,

“Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.”

4. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire poem is ABA CDC DAD AA.

5. Iambic pentameter: It is a type of meter consisting of five iambs. This poem comprises iambic pentameter such as, “I have been one acquainted with the night.”

6. Repetition: There is a repetition of the line “I have been one acquainted with the night” which has created a musical quality in the poem.

7. Refrain: The lines that are repeated at some distance in the poems are called refrain. The line, “I have been one acquainted with the night” is repeated with the same words. Hence, it has become a refrain as it has been repeated in first and the last stanzas.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used when expressing any personal experience of walking late at night or loneliness These lines could also be used

“I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have out walked the furthest city light.”