19 pages 38 minutes read

Robert Frost

Acquainted with the Night

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1928

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Literary Devices


“Acquainted with the Night” is and is not a sonnet; it is as well both homage to and parody of the terza rima form associated most notably with its inventor the Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) and his epic narrative The Divine Comedy, about a pilgrim soul who at midlife learns the horrors of sin and the glorious reward of salvation and Paradise. Technically, the poem is a sonnet. It abides by the conventional 14-line form. The poem is executed in four tercets, or groups of three lines (terza rima means “third line” in Italian), and then a closing couplet. That Frost, a master of form, fractures the sonnet suggests his sly irreverent tone that helps obviate the poem’s apparent oppressive melancholy. Relax, the poem’s form says, it’s a walk in the rain.

The rhyme scheme is tricky. Terza rima as a poetic form is demanding. Frost, himself a student of prosody, against the generation of Modernists who came to embrace his work, advocated that the artistry of a poet expressed itself in conventional forms rather than in the experimental carelessness of open verse.