The poem “Acquainted with the Night” was written by Robert Frost and was published in the collection, The West Running Brook. A common interpretation of the poem is that the author has experienced depression. Frost himself was said to have experienced depression, and mental illness is unfortunately prevalent throughout his family. He had to commit his sister to a mental hospital and his own son committed suicide. Using the “night” as a metaphor the reader can experience what the world around them feels like when inside of the darkness of depression. It speaks of isolation and loneliness.
The narrator feels this loneliness even though he is surrounded by life in a city. The poem is in the same format as a Shakespearian sonnet. It is fourteen lines and written in iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme that Frost uses is the “terza rima” pattern (meaning the third rhyme). The pattern is ABA CDC DAD then AA. This pattern is said to be very difficult to write in English. The rhythm of iambic pentameter is important to the context of this particular poem because it’s like the sound of steady footsteps on pavement like the narrator of the poem walking through the night.
Acquainted with the night is a poem about someone who knows the night well. Frost expresses this by repeating the line, “I have been one acquainted with the night” (1, 14). The repetition is used for the first line of the poem and the last. There is also repletion of the word “I” throughout the poem. This shows that the narrator experiencing the night alone. He feels lonesome. Throughout the poem Frost describes the darkness and sadness of the night.
He describes the sadness he feels by writing, “I have looked down the saddest city lane. / I have passed by the watchman on his beat/ And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain” (4-6). These lines also speak of the isolation the narrator feels. It also shows the narrator has a self-imposed isolation. He chooses to walk around a city, yet cannot connect with any of its inhabitants. Frost uses a number of poetic devices throughout the poem. He uses darkness to describe a state of mind and the isolation the narrator feels.
The moon is used as a contrast from the darkness. It represents time and the slight connection the narrator still has to the world around him. There is a line where the narrator “out walks the city lights”, this is another metaphor describing depression. The physical distance the narrator walks is also a metaphor for loneness. It shows that there is no hope that he can be brought back into the light. The emotions I felt while reading and reflecting on this poem are bleakness, detachment, and loneliness.
I enjoyed Acquainted with the Night because it left me feeling unsettled. I thought that the rhythm of the poem added a good deal to the delivery of the emotions the narrator was feeling. It just seemed like this darkness was drummed into me. The hopelessness seemed like it was inescapable. I read the poem a number of times to gain a real understanding of the emotions attached to it. After I was done, I began to relate to the narrator. I had to remind myself that I was not the one depressed or isolated.