Quotes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 413

"Acquainted With the Night," first published in 1928, is usually interpreted as a poem about depression, where the eponymous "night" symbolizes the darkness and isolation of depression. That the speaker is "acquainted" with the night suggests that he is familiar with—and perhaps feels closely bound to—his depression.

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I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

In this first quotation (comprising lines two and three of the first stanza), the "rain" can be interpreted as an example of pathetic fallacy, whereby the weather reflects the mood of a character. The light that the speaker walks away from could symbolize hope and clarity. The fact that the speaker has "outwalked" the last light suggests that he has left any hope and clarity far behind him. He has walked into the deepest, darkest depths of the night, which—by contrast to the light—symbolizes the depth and darkness of his depression.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet (emphasis added)

This second quotation, which is the first line of the third stanza, alludes to the solipsistic loneliness of the speaker. When he stops walking, he is surrounded by silence and emptiness—as if the world stops with him. The impression here is of a world that is indifferent to his troubles. The meter of the line is iambic, meaning that every second syllable is stressed. This is highlighted in the quotation by the syllables in bold. The fact that this meter places emphasis on the words "still" and "stopped" compounds the impression of a world which, for the speaker, is unmoving, unmoved, and silent.

And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

This third quotation comprises the second and third lines from the fourth stanza and describes the speaker's solitary walk through the city. The distant, illuminated clock could symbolize both the hopelessness of the speaker's depression or his feeling of being lost. The fact that the "luminary clock" is so far away—"at an unearthly height"—compounds the impression made by the first quotation that the speaker is far from any hope or clarity. He is in and of the darkness.

The fact that the clock (in the first line of the next stanza) "Proclaim[s] the time [is] neither wrong nor right" suggests that the speaker is unable to orient himself in the world. He feels lost in a timeless, endless night: alone and hopeless.

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