How does the poet reflect or demonstrate in his words his desire to reunite with his love? What techniques has he used?  (Please mention literary devices, and answer in simple language, please.)...

How does the poet reflect or demonstrate in his words his desire to reunite with his love? What techniques has he used?  (Please mention literary devices, and answer in simple language, please.)

Meeting at Night, Robert Browning

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each! 
Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The speaker of the poem "Meeting at Night" demonstrates his desire to reunite with his lover through the use of imagery, words connoting sexual desire (connotations), onomatopoeia, alliteration, and personification. 

Robert Browning's poem conveys a sense of anticipation through the employment of several literary devices and through punctuation.

  • Connotation

The speaker does not directly tell his intentions of meeting his lover; in fact, he never mentions the word "love." Nevertheless, the reader gathers from his use of connotative words--words that suggest certain feelings--that his is a journey related to a passionate and erotic relationship. For instance, such phrases as the waves that "leap" in "fiery ringlets" connote, or suggest, high emotion. Also, phrases such as "slushy sand," "quick sharp scratch," and "spurt," have erotic connotations.

  • Imagery

Browning describes the lover's journey so vividly in terms of sensory language and impressions that readers virtually share in the lover's experience as they are able to envision and "hear" what he does. Clearly, with so many images, readers seem to share his anticipation and excitement as he moves toward his night-time rendez-vous with his lover. 

Here are examples of this marvelous imagery that can be found in every line of this poem:

--Appeal to sight: "grey sea," "the long black land," "the yellow half-moon," "the startled little waves that leap," and the "blue spurt of the lighted match" (These words describe shape, color, and motion)

--Appeal to sound: "startled little waves," "slushy sand," "tap," "scratch," and "hearts beating," "tap at the pane," "two hearts beating," "a voice less loud" (These words convey the sense of hearing)

--Appeal to smell: "sea-scented beach"

  • Alliteration

Alliteration, the repetition of initial consonant sounds, is a literary device that lends cadence and speed to a poem. This device advances the lines, reflecting the lover's anticipation of his night meeting. Here are examples:

/l/: "long black line," "large and low," "little waves that leap" "less loud"

/p/: "pushing prow"

/s/: slushy sand," "sea-scented," "sharp scratch,"

  • Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia, or the use of words that equate the sound of the word with its meaning. This literary device invites the reader to experience what the speaker does; in this way, the reader "hears" the sounds that the speaker hears. Here are examples:

"pushing," "slushy," "scratch," and "spurt"

  • Personification

Personification, or the lending of human characteristics to inanimate things, also lends life and interest to the poem. Here are examples:

--"startled little waves that leap" - Since only people or animals can be startled, the sea seems to come alive, thus enhancing the impassioned feelings of the lover and the excitement that he has.

--"leap/...from their sleep" - The waves jump, or "leap" from their "sleep," two activities that only living creatures can do. These actions, also, align the sea with the man.

  • Punctuation

The absence of any periods keeps the poem moving as there is no clear ending to any line. Semi-colons slow the line more than commas, but there is still movement. Only the final line ends the thoughts and feelings, and then it is with exclamation and joy, the culmination of his passionate pursuit.