Last Updated September 6, 2023.
This poem depicts the journey of a lover to his beloved (who lives quite a long way from his home) as well as their eventual, long-awaited reunion at her rural home in the middle of the night. When the poem begins, he is on a boat, and he can see the gray sea stretching out ahead of him. He can also see the shadowy presence of the land to which he travels. The moon is large and yellow in color, appearing to hang low in the sky, and the waves churned up by the speaker's boat are reflecting the yellow of the moon—so that they appear to be made of fire rather than water. This imagery is evocative of the sense of fire that is so often associated with lovers’ passion and desire; the speaker must feel extremely passionate to make such a trek, and one can sense his feelings of anticipation. Finally, at the end of the first stanza, his boat pushes into the sand and comes to a halt.
In the second stanza, the speaker describes his experience on the land he has reached. He must first traverse a mile of beach—quite a distance to walk in sand. Next, we again get a sense of the distance the speaker must travel, as he describes how he must cross three fields until he reaches the farm he seeks. He taps at the windowpane of his beloved, she lifts the sash, and one of them lights a match so that they can see one another. He has come to her at night, which means they must be very quiet unless they want to get caught. (We never learn why their meeting is clandestine.) When the speaker and his beloved reunite, they whisper to each other and feel their hearts beating hard with their ardent love for each other.