Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”: An Interpretation of the Poem’s Significance and Theme

Robert Frost is well known as the author of poems that address the world of nature and human feelings. The author expresses the emotions and hesitations of his heroes through vivid images of nature and metaphors, as well as using the poems’ structure.

Thus, the main particularity of his works is that they can be interpreted in different ways. One of the best examples of the author’s techniques is the poem “Acquainted with the Night”. As it has already been mentioned, the poem can be interpreted in different ways.

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One of the interpretations, that we are going to provide in this paper, deals with the explanation of the subject and theme of the poem. The poem is about a lonely person who feels isolation from the society. Thus, the protagonist of the poem experiences depression. The unwillingness to express emotions and feeling of loneliness and depression are the main issues addressed in the poem which present its theme.

The subject of the poem is the loneliness that every person can feel from time to time. The protagonist of the poem wonders around the town unwilling to talk to somebody and express his thoughts and feelings: “I have passed by the watchman on his beat / And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain” (Frost 5, 6).

Indeed, it is a feeling that every individual can experience when it is impossible to say what you want as nobody around can understand you. This makes him feel an outsider in the community he lives in. He knows that nobody thinks about him and nobody will call him: “When far away an interrupted cry / Came over houses from another street, /

But not to call me back or say good-bye” (Frost 9-11). Hears the sounds of human voices and understanding that they are not addressing him, the protagonist’s feeling of loneliness and isolations becomes bigger.

As the protagonist is wondering aimlessly around the town, he understands that his life is senseless. This idea can be heard in the first stanza of the poem: “I have walked out in rain — and back in rain. /I have out walked the furthest city light” (Frost 2, 3). His soul is filled with despair and nonchalance. Nothing bothers him and nothing is interesting to him, neither “the city lane,” and “the city lights,” nor “the watchman on his beat” nor “the sound of feet” (Frost).

The main point about the subject is the theme of isolation, depression and despair. Every line of the poem is filled with this feeling. The author makes use of various literary details to develop the theme of the poem. The poem as a whole sounds metaphorically. Thus, we can conclude that the main literary means used in the poem is metaphor.

With the very first line, the author introduces the reader into the “lonely world” of the protagonist: “I have been one acquainted with the night” (Frost 1). Night has “many faces” in can be fun, mysteries, friendly and hostile. However, it can be lonely as well. The lonely night is the only companion of the narrator. In this poem, night is a metaphor for loneliness and isolation. The narrator is well acquainted with it.

He knows that walking “out in rain — and back in rain” (Frost 2) will have no result and he will never reach the “furthers city light”. In their turn, the lights are the metaphor for the deliverance from loneliness that is unattainable for the narrator at the moment. The protagonist’s experience of loneliness is also expressed by means of such metaphoric images as “furthest city light”, “saddest city lane”, and “an unearthly height”.

The author makes use of nature imagery of moon that, “at an unearthly height, / O luminary clock against the sky / Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right” (Frost 11-13). First of all, he is as lonely as the moon in the sky, and as far from his community as the moon far from the Earth.

However, the imagery of moon is also used to show the meaningless of time for the narrator which “was neither wrong nor right” (Frost 13). It is one more manifestation of the author’s isolation. He is unable to sense the time as other citizens of the town. The moon is the only “clock” for him that still proves the narrator’s presence.

As we can see, the author “plays with the time” using it to develop the theme of the poem. However, there is one more usage of the time. We can observe that Frost uses Present Perfect “I have been…” to show that his loneliness and depression are not short-term emotions, but accompany him for all his life.

Thus, “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost deals with the theme of loneliness, despair and depression. The author makes use different details, such as metaphors and imagery in order to develop the theme. Frost makes use of images of nature in order to express feeling and emotions of the narrator.

Works Cited

Frost, Robert. “Acquainted with the Night.” The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems. Ed. Edward Connery Lathem. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.