The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night” is a sonnet written in terza rima, a rhyme scheme that generally suggests a continual progression. The poem examines the poet’s relationship with himself and with society. Consisting of seven complete sentences, each beginning with the words “I have,” the poem relates Frost’s journey from the “furthest city light” into the dark night.

The first stanza introduces the poet’s relationship with the night as an acquaintance. The idea that the poet is “one acquainted with the night” acts as the glue holding the poem together. Indeed, the first and last lines are identical, emphasizing the poet’s assertion that he is acquainted with the night, and between these lines Frost clarifies the nature of the relationship. The first stanza also implies that his acquaintance with the night is a journey. He has both “walked out in rain—and back in rain” and has “outwalked the furthest city light.” His journey into the night and into the rain is also, for the poet, a journey to self-knowledge.

In the second stanza, the poet looks out at society—“down the saddest city lane”—as he leaves the confines of the city and, thus, society. Because he covets the time alone that he will have outside the city, he passes “the watchman on his beat,” but he makes no eye contact with the watchman, nor does he desire any contact with him. The need for solitude is so strong that he wants...

(The entire section is 593 words.)