19 pages 38 minutes read

Robert Frost

Acquainted with the Night

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1928

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Symbols & Motifs


The poem is set on a rainy night, although the motivation for why the speaker selects a rainy night for his walk is never made clear. Given the lack of urgency to the walk itself, no indication of a direction or a destination, the speaker chooses to walk in the rain. Nor does the speaker seem particularly bothered by the showers and makes no mention of any umbrella or raincoat.

In keeping with the poem’s sense of contrapuntal readings, the rain symbolizes a dreary and forbidding environment, uninviting and depressing. Rain suggests a world in tears, a sad and forlorn landscape that forbids the radiant energy of stars and the moon.

Rain suggests a therapeutic cleansing as well, a ritual baptism in which the poet in his meandering perambulations is actually reinvigorated by his time apart, his stroll alone. Rain washes over the speaker. Rain can be reanimating. After all, rain ends droughts (suggested most notably in the closing section of The Waste Land by fellow Modernist and American expatriate T. S. Eliot); rain promises a return to fertility; rain, within the natural world that is so much an element of Frost’s poetic vision given his love of his adopted New England landscape, is a harbinger of recovery and growth.