“Meeting at Night” is a poem by Robert Browning, which was published in 1845. The poem is a dramatic monologue, which means that it is spoken by a single persona who is not necessarily the poet himself and is addressing a silent listener or readership. The poem is divided into two stanzas, each describing a different stage of a clandestine night-time journey.
Table of Contents
Meeting at Night
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!”
In the first stanza, the persona describes their arrival at a cove by sea. The persona uses vivid imagery to evoke the atmosphere of the scene, which is peaceful, yet full of movement and life. The grey sea, the black land, and the yellow half-moon create a melancholic yet beautiful background for the speaker’s journey. The waves, described as “startled little waves,” leap in “fiery ringlets” from their sleep as if they were surprised and energized by the speaker’s arrival. The persona is pushing a prow through the cove, which suggests that they are in a small boat, and they bring it to a stop on the “slushy sand.” The physical sensations of the sea and the sand are used to create a sensuous, tactile atmosphere, which contributes to the overall mood of the poem.
In the second stanza, the persona describes their journey across a beach and through three fields, which leads them to a farm. The persona taps on the pane of a window, and the response is the quick sharp scratch of a match being lit, and a blue spurt of light. This image is used to create a sense of anticipation and mystery, as we do not yet know who is waiting for the persona inside the house. The persona then hears a voice, which is “less loud” than the “two hearts beating each to each.” This line implies that the persona is meeting someone they love and that their emotions are running high. The poem concludes with this image of two hearts beating together, which creates a sense of intimacy and connection between the two people.
Overall, “Meeting at Night” is a poem that uses vivid imagery and a sensuous, tactile atmosphere to evoke a mood of anticipation and longing. The persona’s journey is depicted as a physical and emotional quest, which leads them to a secret, intimate meeting with someone they love. The poem’s use of vivid imagery and its portrayal of a journey full of movement and life contribute to its lasting appeal and popularity.
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