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Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost: The Concept of Loneliness in the Poem

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Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with The Night” is a dreary poem about loneliness. Frost paints a depressing picture of walking alone in the darkest night, using language to create a feeling of desolation and solitude in addition to his deliberate use of the terza rima rhyme scheme to conjure a feeling of a lack of forward progression. In his poem “Acquainted with the Night”, Robert Frost uses rhyme scheme and meter as well as language to express loneliness and a feeling of going in circles.

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From the very beginning of the poem, Frost evokes a feeling of loneliness with his use of the word “acquainted.” Acquaintance suggests a distant relationship, as opposed to a close one, thereby emphasizing seclusion. When describing themselves as night owls, many people look upon the night with love and admiration, as opposed to distancing themselves from the night by referring to it as an acquaintance. Furthermore, one interpretation of the poem is that Frost refers to the moon as a “luminary clock against the sky.” For some, the moon can decrease a sense of loneliness — the notion that everyone looks at the same moon no matter where they are in the world is comforting to many. However, Frost uses the moon to further emphasize loneliness. He describes the moon as being at an “unearthly height” and as a “luminary clock,” making the moon feel like a foreign and out of reach object that he uses only for timekeeping. Additionally, Frost may have chosen the moon as a symbol for its tendency to orbit in circles. In fact, the poem has a feeling of repetition and moving through time without advancement. The sentence “I have walked out in rain — and back in rain” creates a sense that the narrator isn’t moving forward, he simply walks to some sort of destination and then back to where he started. Frost further shows this with his use of repetition. He uses “I have” at the beginning of each of his sentences throughout the poem, and his last sentence is the same as the first. This creates a sense of moving in circles, which emphasizes a feeling of not being able to progress or move forward.

Furthermore, Frost uses iambic pentameter throughout his poem, which creates a rhythm not unlike that of walking. This helps to bring the content of the poem a little bit more into reality — the rhythm helps the reader imagine the speed and pace of the narrator that much better. Additionally, being able to hear the rhythm of the footsteps when reading this poem helps to reiterate the feelings of loneliness. The only time one can really hear their own footsteps is when they are walking alone, with nothing to listen to but their own thoughts and the sounds of their feet. Additionally, Frost uses the terza rima rhyme scheme to maintain a feeling of repetition. Terza rima is an Italian rhyme scheme that in each stanza uses a rhyme from the previous stanza and one new rhyme. This helps to maintain the feeling of moving in circles that the poem already illustrates. To further manifest this, Frost uses the same rhymes from the beginning of the poem at the end of the poem, bringing it full circle and invoking a feeling of not being able to move forward or progress.

“Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost illustrates a character walking alone in the night for an extended period of time — an activity, it seems, that they have done many times before. In addition to his deliberate use of language, Frost uses iambic pentameter and a terza rima rhyme scheme to create a sense of loneliness and a feeling of moving through time without clear purpose or cause.

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