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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Acquainted With the Night

50 Comments

  1. Renee says:

    Sorry Becky. I see now that my post was actually supposed to be for Sam. Also sorry Sam.

  2. Becky says:

    This poem could also be about Batman.

  3. sam says:

    Hi, im doing an assignment and I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the “luminary clock” really means. I know that it is talking about the moon but what is it saying about the moon? Is it saying that he is looking to the moon as his means of telling time? OR IS THE MOON THE “CLOCK” IN HIS WORLD AND EVERYTHING REVOLVES AROUND WHAT THE MOON IS DOING……IF SOMEONE COULD TELL ME ASAP IT WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED.

  4. Sara says:

    I love this poem – I’m doing an analysis on it for school, and it has so many meanings! I think it is a great poem, and Frost wrote it so that it purposely had many different meanings, having a unique meaning to each person – everyone can relate to it in a different way.

  5. eric garret says:

    awesome im awestruck. =P

  6. Kendall says:

    WOW that was one of my all time favorite poems and just reading it makes me more and more excited to do my 11th grade english paper on him.

  7. Lauren says:

    I believe that the word “night” in this poem refers to a suicide attempt. He’s walked “out in rain-and back in rain”: he’s been through troubles and emotional strife. He’s “outwalked the furthest city light”: he’s lost the faintest glimmer of hope. The watchman portrays a God-like figure.. someone he came in close contact with, but was ashamed of himself. The voice he heard was someone he thought was going to “call him back” and care for him, or even to say “good-by”… but to no avail.

  8. Ashley says:

    Reading through, it seems none of you considered the possiblity of the speaker being female. It puts an interesting spin on the poem. For example; the “luminary clock,” referring to the moon, would be quite significant to a woman to tell what time of the month it was.

  9. Jessica says:

    wow… this poem has so many meanings, literally, and symbolically. obviously, the speaker, robert frost, is trying to get away from somthing or is looking back at the hard times in his life. he says that he has been in and out of the rain which could mean he has been in and out of problems in his life. he has outwalked the furthest city light, which means he has gone so far in his problems, he has reached just a terrorizing point in life at sometime. he has had his sad times and has been looked down upon by others which we see in the 2nd stanza. He has been aware of the time and how he does not have a lot of it, I think he means that we shouldnt waist things like what he is writing about because we dont hvae a whole lot of time. In the end of the time, he says that time shouldnt matter. We need to stop the bad things going on in our life and not let them affect us. Most people think that frost is writing about death, but i just dont see it. does anyone else feel like he is not talking about death?

  10. Sandy says:

    I think this poem means that the narrator of this poem has gone through an expoeriance where he almost died, whether literally or what dying means to him. I got that idea from the last three sentences. ” One luminary clock against the sky proclaimes the time was nether wrong nor right. I also got the idea from the sentence “I have passed by the watchman on his beat and dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.”
    I’m not sure if my interpertation is correct or close because everyone has different points of view,but please e-mail me and give me your thoughts.

  11. Leonard says:

    Borges in an intimate interview with Gloria Lopez Lecube replied “I would choose Acqainted with the night.

    Jorge Luis Borges was a poet and blind at the time of the interview.

  12. Kate says:

    I read this poem because my friend was analyzing it for lit. I said as a joke that the speaker was a vampire. I think that although it is obviously not a vampire, you get the same sense of lonliness and isolation as you would as some characterizations of a vampire. I personally thought it made sense, like the “luminary clock” was the moon, since vampires can’t tell time by the sun, they would by the moon… Anyway, I just thought I’d throw that out there.

  13. Alex says:

    “Acquainted with the Night” evokes a very American mood of isolation in an urban setting, something Edward Hopper portrays very well in his paintings. This brings back very pleasant emotions and memories of my solitary walks around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx when I was a kid and later on in life.

  14. Jack says:

    The passion of the poem comes from the desire to hide the secrets of life, and the desire to expose to the light of day the secret desires of the soul. While the symbolism of clocks (time) and watchmen (god) clearly indicates that there are no “real” secrets, the attempt to keep hidden those things we feel shame over, keeps us all well acquainted with the night.

  15. Nakaashi says:

    I rather think that this person here has done a lot of things during the night and that is why he is acquainted with it. Analyzing the whole poem makes me think that he was going away from home, and has all these gloomy thoughts about the night he did so. He is not able to explain to the watchman what he is doing and passes by him without a word. Then a while later, screams are heard from a lane behind from perhaps where he was coming. His family members realized that he left them. Or yet it could be that he died. And when he says, ‘further still at an unearthly height, one luminary clock against the sky.’ That could just be that he is a star looking down on all of them. He says this time was neither wrong or right but it happened during the night,therefore, he is one acquainted with the night.

  16. Willie Jones says:

    I find so easy to relate to Robert Frost. In many of his poems when he talks about death and being lonely i can relate to that.

  17. Mike Williams says:

    I think this poem is about his sad life. This is why Robert talks about the saddest lane and walking far far away from the light.

  18. chris mccomb says:

    In Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”, the speaker can be any one of a number of people. To define the speaker generally, the speaker is someone who has a story to tell, and is proud of that story. This story holds so much importance for them that if they were dying and were able to have only one more conversation they would talk about how they had become “acquainted with the night”. This story describes such a personally meaningful journey, that it becomes more than just a tale; it becomes a legacy. The listener could be anybody who had inquired about the story that the speaker has to tell. I like to entertain the idea that this poem is a long-lost uncle’s narrative to his nephew upon their first meeting. The uncle feels that this story gives his nephew an accurate impression of who he is, of where he has been, and what he may try to do next.
    The meaning that I obtained after reading “Acquainted with the Night” is that it is important to recognize the value of non-conformity. Great gratification can be obtained by reducing intellectual and emotional input until you arrive at the stillness of your soul.
    The imagery in “Acquainted with the Night” is peculiar in that most of its sensory details are presented through the sense of hearing. 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. 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.
    The fact that throughout the poem the speaker is essentially alone gives the symbolism a new spin. From the author’s loneliness it appears that he is on the ‘road less traveled’. Thus, the “saddest city lane” that he looks down could be interpreted as the road more traveled. The watchman in the speaker’s path intimidates him, because the speaker “dropped his eyes, unwilling to explain”. If the speaker even thought that an explanation would have been necessary, we can imply that the watchman was blatantly not of the same mind as the speaker. The sole purpose of a watchman on the path of the unique would be to encourage the unique to return to the road more traveled. The watchman epitomizes “The Man” of the punk rock counterculture because of his position of power. Loneliness itself comes to be symbolized by the night into which the narrator walks.
    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. 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. 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 poem could belong to the musical genre of punk rock. One of major aspects of the punk counterculture group, non-conformity, is one of the themes expressed in this poem. The reference to “The Man” (in the form of a watchman) in the second stanza reflects another counterculture ideal: unwillingness to explain, or opposing the authorities who suppress individualism.
    When I first read this poem the only emotion that I felt was loneliness. However, when I read this poem for a second time I was able to pick out a few more emotions that the author expressed. The dominant emotion when I read this poem for the second time was pride in solitude. The author’s tone which I perceived, had changed from one of near-shame to one of pride in his accomplishments. When the narrator talks about the voice that calls out to him, “but not to call me back or say good-bye”, the author seems nonchalant and defiant in the second reading. Frost conveys the feeling that the speaker neither wants nor needs the person to which the voice belonged. I think the speaker simply needed time alone in which to relax and enjoy the sense of peace in solitude that the night can bring. He walked out alone not knowing what he was seeking… and found himself.

  19. Simmi says:

    This poem is amazing.I had to analyse it for school. Usually im really bad with poems. But this one was much easier to understand. It made me feel so sad.

  20. Nikki says:

    This poem has the slow feeling to it, almost a calming one. If you could close your eyes and picture where the man is standing, walking.. what would it look like?.. Very interesting poem, seeing how there are lots of homeless people in the world, and noone stops to care about what they have experienced or think!

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