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Poetry

Acquainted With the Night * Robert Frost Poetry

Have you ever had to go somewhere by yourself late at night, and gotten a little creeped out and lonely? Or, maybe you’ve had the feeling that nothing is wrong…but nothing is right, either. Or maybe you’ve been so sad that even things that don’t have feelings, like places or objects, seem sad to you. If so, this poem should speak to you.

 

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.

First published in the The Virginia Quarterly Review in 1927, and then in Frost’s book West Running Brook in 1928, “Acquainted with the Night” is written in terza rima. This poetic form originated in Italy, with Dante’s Divine Comedy. It’s much easier to find rhymes in Italian, so this cyclical rhyming form is very difficult in English, but Frost masters it. The three-line stanzas, intertwined with rhyme, trick you into thinking that you’re moving forward in sound while, really, you are stuck. As we read, we’ll find out how this form fits the content of “Acquainted with the Night.”

Categories
Poetry

Robert Frost * Home Burial Poem

“Home Burial” is one of Robert Frost’s longest poems, and it can also be considered one of his most emotionally disturbing ones. “Home Burial,” published in 1914, tells the story of a married couple fighting after their baby has died. It’s written mostly in dialogue, so it sounds like real people talking. But this is no ordinary conversation. It tackles the subjects of love, grief, and death, making readers think about each of those common topics in a new way.

He saw her from the bottom of the stairs
Before she saw him. She was starting down,
Looking back over her shoulder at some fear.
She took a doubtful step and then undid it
To raise herself and look again. He spoke
Advancing toward her: ‘What is it you see
From up there always — for I want to know.’
She turned and sank upon her skirts at that,
And her face changed from terrified to dull.
He said to gain time: ‘What is it you see?’
Mounting until she cowered under him.