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Through stylistic devices, poets are often able to add layers of meaning to short and seemingly cryptic stanzas. It is a poet s responsibility to know how he wants to affect the reader and which stylistic devices he must use to achieve his goal. Acclaimed New England poet Robert Frost wrote hundreds of poems in his lifetime. His poem Acquainted with the Night focuses on Frost s depression and loneliness through a depiction of a late night journey. In this poem, Frost makes use of title, imagery and diction to induce senses of meaning and mystery.

Unlike some artists who are reluctant to place significant titles on their pieces, Frost names this poem in such a way that the reader is drawn in by the title s sound and enigmatic meanings. The title, Acquainted with the Night also functions as a metric line evoking a heartbeat, a familiar rhythm that offers comfort. Audibly pleasing, and very memorable, the title draws the reader into the poem s underlying themes. Additionally, the title immediately associates this poem with darkness and loneliness; the poem can be interpreted to be about depression. Frost s use of night in the title can be seen as a metaphor for the emotional darkness that permeates the atmosphere of the poem. The inclusion of acquainted is also very clever, suggesting the narrator is familiar with the night s company.

Imagery plays a significant role in the development of Frost s concepts of the human condition. Almost every line in the poem contains a phrase that immediately provides the reader with a moment or experience to which he can relate. When Frost writes, I passed the watchman on his beat and dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain , he presents an image from daily life that many people find familiar. This scene depicts isolation. The narrator walking alone, passes another person, but is ultimately unwilling or unable to communicate. The reader may immediately recognize a time when he, too, preferred the comfort of his own solitude to the real possibility that true communication with another might prove impossible. Distance is also captured through imagery. Each stanza provides an example. The first describes the narrator out walking the furthest city light , setting him away from all civilization. The second stanza sets the scene on the saddest city lane , evoking its separateness from all other paths. In the third stanza the narrator hears a single shout that had come over houses from a different street. Again the reader knows that the narrator has separated himself from his normal life. The last three-line stanza mentions one luminary clock in the sky at an unearthly height , which is the moon, located millions of miles away.

Frost s use of diction affects the reader by allowing him to easily associate the poem with depression and loneliness. Words such as night , rain , saddest , still , stopped and good-bye all share perceptions of sorrow and solitude. If Frost had neglected the inclusion of furthest in the line I have outwalked the furthest city light , its effect on the reader would not suggest the same distance away from society. The last line of the poem, I have been one acquainted with the night. reiterates the title, suggesting that this poem is an account of a regular and cyclical routine.

Robert Frost s poem Acquainted with the Night was written to express his feelings on his life. The poem suggests that though lonely and depressed, the poet still felt comfortable in his isolation. Frost s use of stylistic devises is successful and the reader is able to clearly interpret Frost s intentions.


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