University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Acquainted with the Night: a Story of Night Walks Experience
Robert Frost’s poem “Acquainted with the Night” is told from the point of view of an unknown person. This person tells a story about how he/she has taken numerous late night walks, specifically in the rain. Using tone, diction, the title, structure imagery, and language, Frost writes a poem about a person’s late night experiences to relate to similar experiences that a reader may have encountered.
With Frost’s word choice and the title he chooses to tell this story, the poem comes to exhibit a gloomy tone. Immediately after reading the title of the poem, it can be derived that the lines to follow will chronicle some form of darkness because the word “Night” in the title is a natural embodiment of darkness itself. To help support the gloomy tone initiated with the title of the poem, Frost chooses words such as “rain,” “down,” “saddest, “dropped,” and “cry” to populate the body of his poem. It should also be noted that the speaker in the poem is constantly distancing himself/herself from life and light as he/she out walks “the furthest city light,” tries to hide from the watchman, is “far away from an interrupted cry,” and is “further still” from the light of the moon. The fact that the speaker is unidentified gives more support for the poems gloomy tone. These elements, the tone, title and diction used, contribute to Frost’s purpose for the poem because they characterize the dark setting that allows the poet to write a story that is both believable and easy to relate to.
Frost applies a structure and an aspect of imagery to the poem that allows it flow nicely while distinguishing each separate occurrence that the speaker mentions as he/she tells the story. Frost uses assonance as he rhymes “night” with “light,” “lane” with “explain,” “feet” with “street,” “good-bye” with “sky,” and “right” with “night” in an ABA rhyming pattern for each three line stanza and an AA pattern for the final two line stanza. These end rhymes give the poem rhythm. The poet also uses symbolism when talking about the aspects of night versus light. Darkness seems to come from the below and light from above as Frost writes of a “city light” and a “luminary light against the sky”.
The darkness in contrast is seen far away from the lights and “further from the sky”. By utilizing components of the literal language in the poem, Frost emphasizes important points that he wants his audience to take note of to make the scenarios he discusses in the poem easier to understand. The poet uses the strategy of repetition a number of times as the words “I have” begin all three lines of the first stanza, the first two lines of the second stanza, the first line of the second stanza, disappears from the fourth stanza, and reappears in the fifth stanza and the last line of the poem. Frost does this to highlight that the speaker of the poem is familiar with the dark of the night.
In addition, the phrase “acquainted with the night” is, including the title, repeated three times in the poem to underline the fact the speaker is indeed quite familiar with the scenarios that he/she is describing. Through tone, diction, the title, structure, imagery, and language, Robert Frost tells the story of how and why the speaker has become “acquainted with the night” with the purpose of relating what takes place in the poem to similar ordeals that a reader may have experienced. The poet makes the tone of the poem dark and gloomy so that the words the speaker says contain a more sinister and powerful weight to them. This helps to make the poem feel like an adventure.