Sunday, December 11, 2005

Acquainted with the Night

by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

* * *

Blogged after several hours of philosophy notes. It's not exactly an all-nighter yet, but I'm not usually out this late. I don't like finals week.

But I do like terza rima. And this poem. I am one acquainted with the night also. So many of the events in the poem are quite familiar to me.

For some reason you go out walking at night. Maybe you don't even know why. The rain drifts down, a lazy drizzle. A cop passes by and suddenly you feel under suspicion. Guiltily you drop your eyes, afraid he'll stop you and ask why you're out and what you're doing. And how can you answer when you don't know?

All you can hear is your own footsteps. You stand still and that falls silent too; silent enough for you to hear a shout from far away. You don't know what it means, yet somehow it hurts you that they are not speaking to you. You are entirely alone.

And the time, being neither wrong or right . . . at that hour, nothing seems wrong or right. It just is. Nothing cares to present itself to you, or is interested in what you make of it. It states itself, matter-of-factly, and you realise it makes no difference what you think about it. So you think nothing.

--Excuse the late-night rambles. I have been one acquainted with the night.

4 comments:

Santiago said...

with the night? the dark night of the soul? the heart of darkness? or the experience of nothingness?

you are so poetic

Sheila said...

Is that sarcastic? That's just the way I get after five hours of studying human nature. I know it might sound like modern poetry (no rhyme, no meter, no sense), but it isn't.

I wasn't speaking symbolically at all. I just meant the plain old night.

For the whole story of my most-of-the-nighter, see Fiddleback.

Sheila said...

Of course, the plain old night inspires feelings of spiritual darkness sometimes too. I forgot to mention that.

Mark said...
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