“Acquainted in the Night” is a poem by Robert Frost which was published in 1928
“Acquainted in the Night” is a poem by Robert Frost which was published in 1928. In the poem, Frost talks about how lonely he was when he was walking at night in the streets which had then been isolated. For the whole period that he walked past the city limits covering every available lane, he did not find anything that would help him in comforting the depression that he had. His unwillingness to talk to anyone was evident when he failed to express his feelings to the people he made contact with, majority of them being watchmen. This is because the narrator has the notion that even if he did talk to someone, no one would be able to understand him. When he hears a cry from a distance, he quickly brushes off relations to that cry because he is convinced that the cry cannot in any way be for him. He instead resorts to staring at the moon while acknowledging that indeed time is meaningless to him because he has an unending isolation.
This poem can be understood as an expression of the narrator’s encounter with depression. This is because throughout the poem, the narrator has dwelled upon the depression that he goes through in isolation. In each of these instances, he give vivid descriptions of how the events affect and influence his thoughts sending him into even deeper depression. The complete isolation which he is in emerges in the poem as the most indicative clue manifesting his depression. The emphasis of this is seen in the author’s choice of words where he decides to use first person term “I” to start every seventh sentence of the poem.
The watchman has been brought into the picture in the poem but does not seem to be playing any important role in relations to the emotions. In fact, his presence further explains the extent in which the narrator was depressed because the narrator continues to use “I” while disregarding the watchman’s presence and understanding of his situation. In the same way, the cry does not make any impact towards the narrator’s isolation because he knows pretty well that there is nobody waiting for him at home thus the cry cannot in any way be his. This in a significant way expresses the narrator’s critical mental condition.
The effects of the narrator’s depression is manifests in his actions through the inability to make contact with the people he meets as he walks along the city lanes. This situation is worse expressed by the narrator’s inability to make eye contact. This means that at this point in time, the narrator cannot interact normally in the society and to prove this, even the setting of the poem is at night. Whereby the narrator only walks at the wee hours when the only people he can meet are the watchmen. All other people are probably asleep already. This is the kind of abnormal situation that the narrator’s depression subjects him to. Normal people conduct their events during the day whereas the narrator’s acquaintance is at night. Finding similarities within the members of his community is therefore very challenging. This difficulty emerges from the fact that the other people in the society identify more with the day which manifests sunlight, happiness ad optimism. Furthermore, the narrator cannot even use the sense of time like others.
The irony brought in this poem is that the narrator seeks someone who can understand his problem and pull him out of the pit of depression which he is stuck in yet he operates at times when everybody is unavailable. Even the few that may be available may not be able to notice his agony in the darkness. This is a person who has chosen to create a luminary clock, different from the normal clock that provides definite time, so that he can satisfy his conscious in his solitude operations. His modes of operation therefore provides very minimal chances of ever getting of the pit that he has sent himself into because it has literally constructed a depression circle from which escaping is difficult.
The present perfect tense that Frost incorporates in his poem contributes to the inherent uncertainty of the poem. This is because his description is of occurrences of the recent past, and also those from the past that are still happening at the moment. The use of tenses like “I have been…” can help in suggesting that the depression in which the narrator is subjected can be one that was caused by events that occurred recently. Furthermore, the tense is still open to suggestions that the situation could still be the same currently, meaning that the depression cannot yet be forgotten because its cause is still eminent. This therefore means that the narrator’s condition will still remain constant for a little longer, and his loneliness will continue manifesting itself on him as he continues operating in isolation. It is therefore very difficult to tell whether the narrator will be able to return to the community or the depression will keep on resurfacing to again and again send him to his acquaintance with the night.