Acquainted with the Night

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"Acquainted with the Night" is a poem by Robert Frost. It first appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review in 1927, and was published in 1928 in his collection West-Running Brook.

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.

Interpretation and form[edit]

The poem is most often read as the poet/narrator's admission of having experienced depression and a vivid description of what that experience feels like. In this particular reading of the poem, "the night" is the depression itself, and the narrator describes how he views the world around him in this state of mind. Although he is in a city, he feels completely isolated from everything around him.

The poem is written in strict iambic pentameter, with 14 lines like a sonnet, and with a terza rima ("third rhyme") rhyme scheme, which follows the complex pattern of: aba bcb cdc dad aa. Terza rima was invented by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri for his epic poem The Divine Comedy. Because Italian is a language in which many words have vowel endings, terza rima is much less difficult to write in Italian than it is in English. Because of its difficulty, very few writers in English have attempted the form. However, Frost was a master of many forms, and "Acquainted with the Night" is one of the most famous examples of an American poem written in terza rima.

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