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Analysis and comments on Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost

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Comment 55 of 205, added on May 5th, 2009 at 11:07 PM.

In Robert Frost's Acquainted With the Night he demonstrates that he is a
very experienced man. This poem is showing a period of time that must have
been depressing. However, it could not of been the Great Depression due to
the fact that this poem was written in 1928 and the Great Crash didn't
occur until late 1929. Growing up without a father, and moving several
times while young must have been tough for Frost. Quite possibly giving
him some of the experiences in this poem, such as walking somewhere and
back in the pouring rain. Which also is not uncommon seeing as how many
families didn't have cars while he was growing up. This poem has a very
simple rhyme structure, which makes it simple and entertaining to read; one
of Frost's writing styles.

Riley Ludwig from United States
Comment 54 of 205, added on May 5th, 2009 at 9:14 PM.

I've read that Robert Frost had many hardships in his life and may of
suffered from depression.This poem
sounds like it may represent a part of his life where he was lonley and in
a dark place. Talking about night and rain is a lonley and depressing thing
and walking down the saddest city lane unwilling to explain is sad
and indicates he is holding this sadness inside. Hearing a cry from from
away but not to call me back, may mean he is not missed when he is gone,
maybe because he felt a lack of love from his parents or someone close to
him. One luminary clock against the sky is refering to moon, again
something far away and lonley. I think this is a very sad and depresing
poem.

ashley engeln from United States
Comment 53 of 205, added on May 4th, 2009 at 12:48 AM.

This poem by Robert Frost gives the reader a connection or a greater
understanding of Frost’s life. Frost wrote this poem in first person so
this suggests that he is reflecting back on his life. He has gone through a
number of hardships throughout his time, for example, there have been a lot
of deaths in his family. His father died when he was at the age of 11 and
his mother died later on. Therefore, this poem gives a dark, depressing
feel to it expressing the difficulties that Frost has had. Like Edgar
Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’, a poem with a similar loneliness kind of theme to
it with ‘Acquainted with the Night’; Frost had used a refrain. Frost
repeated the phrase ‘I have been one acquainted with the night’ just like
Poe repeated ‘Nevermore’. Also, another technique Frost had used is
metaphor, ‘One luminary clock against the sky’; this line could be
interpreted as the luminary clock meaning the moon.

Fiona Carter from United States
Comment 52 of 205, added on April 29th, 2009 at 1:30 AM.

Frost is known for being more traditional than most writers. Acquainted
with the Night has an iambic rhythm and a masculine rhyme scheme. A
masculine rhyme scheme is where the last word in every other line rhymes
and makes the poem flow and makes it seem more dramatic. This poem being in
first person shows that he himself has experienced being acquainted with
the night. It’s unusual that Frost wrote this poem because he left the
lonely country side to go to the city, and using “I” is representing
isolation. The first line of the first stanza states "I have been one
acquainted with the night," not "I am." This suggests a past situation of
the narrator's life. The word “Acquainted” means to know but not
necessarily to be a friend of or to know very well. However, the narrator
is saying that he knows quite well what the night is like; again this shows
that he has experienced this personally. Frost has also used refrains in
this poem. He used “I have been acquainted with the night,” like Edgar
Allen Poe in the Raven.

Arlene B from United States
Comment 51 of 205, added on January 22nd, 2009 at 8:22 AM.

my teacher is making me do a project on this peom for the mid-term finals
and i thought what every kid thinks "lame" but once i looked at this and
looked at the meanings i now think that its a pretty good peom.

will from United States
Comment 50 of 205, added on September 20th, 2008 at 8:57 PM.

Themes of this poem: Depression, darkness, loneliness. I feel that this
poem is a reflection of Frosts life up to this point. This poem was
published in his volume West Running Brook in 1928. Mental illness ran in
Robert Frosts family. Many of his family members have died at this point in
his life, and some will die very soon.

- he and his mother suffered from depression
- wife also experienced depression
- father died of tuberculosis in 1885 (Frost was 11)
- mother died of cancer in 1900
- son died of cholera in 1904
- daughter died three days after birth in 1907
- committed his younger sister to a mental hospital in 1920, where she died
nine years later
- daughter died as a result of puerperal fever after childbirth in 1934
- wife had heart problems throughout her life & developed breast cancer in
1937 & died of heart failure in 1938
- son committed suicide 1940
- daughter Irma was committed to a mental hospital in 1947
- Only two children outlived him (he had six children)

The poem is all in past tense which shows he's looking back or reflecting
on something.

Poem analyzed line-by-line:

Acquainted With the Night
Acquainted: 1. having personal knowledge as a result of study, experience,
etc.; informed (usually followed by with) 2. brought into social contact;
made familiar.
Night symbolism: dark, lonely, sad, depressing
He has personal knowledge, experienced and made familiar with sad, lonely
times.

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have been through bad times
Reflecting back on a hard time in his life (past tense)

I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
Spent a lot of time in depression

I have outwalked the furthest city light.
There have been points in my life where I have had no hope

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
????

I have passed by the watchman on his beat
passed someone of importance
the watchman is God

And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
Put on a brave face so that everyone thinks you're fine
doesn't want to talk about his depression
He thought about suicide, but was ashamed and didn't want God to know

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
People have stopped to help me

When far away an interrupted cry
Off in his own world

Came over houses from another street,
Too lost in his own world to help others

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
saying goodbye to his deceased family

And further still at an unearthly height,
Looking to religion to help him
looking up at the moon

One luminary clock against the sky
symbolism for luminary = light & hope; clock = time (so in time there will
be reason for hope)
The moon, tells us what time it is like a clock—night time

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
Lost track of time in his life
Doesn't really care what time it is; time doesn't matter

I have been one acquainted with the night.
Reflecting on his life struggles from a present view

Heather from Canada
Comment 49 of 205, added on September 21st, 2007 at 8:20 PM.

Several people have mentioned they feel the "luminary clock" is actually
the moon. I may be wrong, but I never viewed it as such. I think it really
is a clock. "Unearthly height" to describe the distance of the moon seems
pretty redundant of Frost-- of course the moon is "unearthly" higher than
the earth, because its not OF the earth to begin with, its the moon. The
clock is AGAINST the sky, not IN the sky, because its just a really tall
clock.

Brittany from United States
Comment 48 of 205, added on May 25th, 2007 at 1:34 AM.

The feelings that i see in this poem are that of routine and sadness. He
almost seems forgotten. He knows exactly when and where something is going
to happen. Every time he hears a noise, he hopes that it may be directed
towards him. He is so used to the rhythm of this city and is bored perhaps.


laura woods from United States
Comment 47 of 205, added on May 14th, 2007 at 1:17 AM.

Robert Frost was indeed one of the most important and influential writers
in the history of American Literature. His unique style and incredible use
of symbolic meanings give his readers a deeper understanding of his works.
In his poem, “Acquainted with the Night.” Frost uses symbolism and rhythm
skims, Frost conveys a lonesome feeling of isolation through the speaker,
who has done some thing awful in his life and is ashamed of it. Regardless
of his wrong doing, he still has hope that he can over come his dark side.

‘Night’ in many poems is a symbol for death. However night in Frost’s poem
“Acquainted with the Night” bought itself to many different interpretations
that may change the entire poem’s deeper meaning. For example the literal
meaning for night is the period of darkness between sunset and sunrise. So
if the reader sees night in the poem as just the actual definition he will
not truly understand the poem because he will wonder why the speaker keeps
saying “I have been one acquainted with the night.” Acquainted means
(Informed or familiar), so in that sense every one in the world is
acquainted with actual, physical night. So the reader knows that night must
have a more profound symbolic meaning.
Night here can serve as a metaphor for the speaker’s depression, Depression
that he most likely is ashamed of because the speaker in the poem says, “I
have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to
explain (Kyoko, Amano).” when he says, “I have looked down the saddest city
lane.” He is probable looking back at a time when his depression was the
worst it had ever been (Lauren). Another indication of depression occurs
when the speaker says, “I have outwalked the furthest city light.” Since in
most poems light is symbolic for hope and night in this poem is symbolic
for depression. Than the conclusion is that the speaker has gone so deep in
to his depression that he can no longer see hope or a way out and so he is
acquainted with the night.
Depression is not the only meaning night can have in this poem, however.
Night may also represent the concept of the unexplored area of inner
knowledge that every one has within (Kyoko). Since the speaker is
acquainted with the night, he knows his darker inner self and for that he
is truly unique, but he is also ashamed. “I have passed by the watchman on
his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.” The watchman’s purpose
in the poem is to enforce regularity of the people traveling the roads
(Macomb). In other words he makes individuals take the road more traveled,
Such as in frost poem “the road not taken” where there are two roads. One
road is the road more traveled which is a symbol for conformity. The other
road is the less traveled one and it symbolizes the uniqueness of an
individual. So the speaker is ashamed to look at the watchman because of
his inner darkness and is unwilling to explain to him why he is not taking
the road more traveled. His unwillingness to explain is the reason for his
shame.
The “Sound of feet” and an “interrupted cry” through the darkness are the
two most vivid images in the poem. This lack of visual details makes the
reader feel that they are either blind, or cloaked in complete darkness
(Teresa). Most of the vivid visual details are implied. The only concrete
visual detail is when the reader is presented with the image of the
“luminary clock against the sky”. Since the clock is the only thing that is
explicitly seen, it takes on a startling importance. The idea of the “time”
being “neither wrong nor right” in the poem can be taken to reflect Frost’s
perception of waiting for something in his life, longing for something
which may never come (Lauren).
If the speaker in the poem is a female than the role of the moon takes on a
more imperative meaning (Ashley). The moon could be the time of the month
that a woman may or may not obtain pregnancy. The moon for a woman may
symbolize a hope that she will get pregnant, but the only way this could be
is if night symbolizes a woman’s fear of loneliness and isolation in
society if she does not achieve pregnancy. If the speaker is a woman than
the phase “I have been one acquainted with the night.” means she has tried
many times to get pregnant. However she has failed and is familiar with the
night that in the sense she knows how it feels to be isolated due to the
fact that she can not get pregnant. In many poems rain symbolizes birth or
a new begging, however rain in this poem is symbolic for pregnancy the
phase “I have walked out in rain-and back in rain.” Means that she has been
paginate numerous times before but something happened such as a
miscarriage. The “saddest city lane” is a time in which she had a
miscarriage or a lose of a child at birth. “I have looked down the saddest
city lane.” “I have passed by the watchman on his beat and dropped my eyes,
unwilling to explain.” The reason why the speaker dropped her eyes in the
face of the watchman is because she feels that it’s her fault that she lost
a child due to a miscarriage. She is keeping all the pain inside and is
putting herself deeper in to isolation. The “cry” symbolizes some body
trying to reach out to her and help with her emotional distress. “One
luminary clock against the sky Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor
right.” symbolizes a longing for something which may never come such as the
feeling that it is not her fault for the lose of her child. The time being
neither wrong nor right could also symbolize that it may have not been the
right time for her to have a child, but it wasn't the wrong time either its
no ones fault.

The rhythm of “Acquainted with the Night” is extremely steady. The entire
poem is in perfect iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme serves to draw the
poem together as a whole. The first stanza rhymes in an A, B, A pattern.
The next stanza rhymes B, C, and B. The rhyme of the first and last lines
of the next stanza is introduced in the second line of the preceding
stanza. This gives the poem a feeling of smooth continuity. Another aspect
of the poem that adds to its smoothness is the nearly perfect iambic
pentameter that it is written in. Since the purpose of a watchman is to
enforce regularity, the dominance of the watchman’s power is shown through
the smoothness and regularity of this poem.
This pattern continues until the very last stanza, which is a couplet that
returns to the first (A) rhyme. This repetition of the initial rhyme draws
the reader’s attention back to the beginning, bringing the poem full
circle. Since the poem goes in a full circle it is symbolic for the phases
of depression. For example when an individual gets depression and over
comes it, most of the time the depression resurfaces just like the poem
does in returning to the begging.

Frost‘s use of investing things with symbolism such as the night and the
luminary clock is a masterful work of literature due to the fact that there
are so many different meanings they can represent and hold true to. Also
his rhythm sekm make his poem “acquainted with the night” have a deeper
meaneing than just if he used symbolizem because the waitchman’s job can be
felt subcanitolsly all the way thourgh the poem.


josh from United States
Comment 46 of 205, added on April 23rd, 2007 at 4:05 PM.

I am writing about this for school, which is kind of taking the fun out of
it for me. It is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous and descriptive
poems I have ever read. I have suffered so much with depression, and the
poem really describes it for me. I need some help with a few lines of it,
and if you are willing to do that I would really appreciate it. Just write
a comment after mine saying you are willing and I will email you and tell
you the questions. I hope no one gets mad that I am asking for help or
anything. thanks!

Jeannie from United States

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Information about Acquainted With the Night

Poet: Robert Frost
Poem: 21. Acquainted With the Night
Volume: West-Running Brook
Year: 1928
Added: Feb 1 2004
Viewed: 66876 times
Poem of the Day: May 16 2003


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