Aquainted with the night


The Darkness of being "Acquainted with the Night"

When reading poetry such as Robert Frost's "Acquainted with the night,"
one must give special attention to the aspects associated within it, in order to gain a better understanding of the poem's content. More specifically the aspects of tone, voice, language, setting and form, which shape the readers perception and feelings toward the poem. In these aspects Frost adds an unusual dimension to his lyric poem "Acquainted with the night," aspects that convey lament, guilt and confusion, all related to a terrifying sense of personal loss. Frost was a "folk philosopher," concerned mainly with philosophical problems in an experimental manner. Many of his poems deal with lonely wanderings and melancholic views on such things as existence and the reasons for his problematic life being constantly between "affirmation and negation"(Barry, 1973). His experimentations were primarily in tone and voice, "Frost ranged in tone from the lyric to the narrative, from the dramatic to the meditative," and "Acquainted with the Night" is no exception to this experimentation (Barry, 1973).
"Acquainted with the Night" is in fact a lyric poem directly portraying the author's emotions concerning a specific event in his life. Although it is not clearly stated in his poem, the subject of "Acquainted with the Night" deals with the grievances, confusion and guilt most likely found in the death of a loved one. Frost is well known for "extending the subject matter of lyric poetry as well as bringing extraordinary sophistication and originality"(Barry, 1973).
Frost's poem "Acquainted with the night" is constructed of four stanzas, the first three being tercet's and the fourth and final being a quatrain, above all it contains fourteen lines all of similar length. The rhyme scheme of the first tercet is ABA, the second BCB and the third being CDC, while the quatrain contains a DADAA rhyme scheme. The superficial construction of the poem brings meaning and understanding to the content as well as evoking emotions from the way the poem is structured. The speaker repeatedly uses "I have" in order to structure the first two stanzas, and does not use it again until the last line of the last stanza. The constant use of "I have" tells the reader that there is something significantly troubling about expressing these feelings, perhaps there is a build up of emotion, making these feelings impossible to be expressed in one or two lines. Following the repetition, the third and fourth stanzas break down and the reader does not see the use of "I have" until the last line of the poem. The absence of the repeated "I have" suggests a different frame of thought, or an extension of thought from the first two stanzas, taking the poem into another dimension of detail. Even so, the speaker reiterates the first line as the last line, implying that they are still trapped between the sorrow and guilt of personal loss.
The rhyme scheme (ABA,BCB) of the first and second stanzas, signal to the reader that there is a significant rhythm in addition to the use of repetition. The rhyme scheme stays basically intact throughout the first three tercets before becoming disrupted in the final stanza. In the same way, the rhyme scheme shows how the speaker breaks down when recollecting past events.
The speaker talks in a sullen methodical tone displaying the hurt and anguish associated with the sense of personal loss. The pause in thought during the second line , "I have walked out in rain - and back in rain" as well as the many end stopped lines used in each stanza, suggest a slow thoughtful process of deep sorrow. In this way the poem demands a slow heartfelt reading, taking away the speaker's sense of well being or happiness if it was read without these end stops. Furthermore by using such words as "saddest," "unearthly," "rain" and "night," there becomes a dark, depressive tone involved. The use of such aspects of tone, in particular, the chosen words, the pauses and many end marks making the poem slow and almost painful, give the reader a sense of melancholy and personal loss evoked by the speaker.
The uses of words in past tense such as "have" or "came" suggest that the poem is not presently occurring in time, but is playing back in the speaker's memory. The "city" often spoken