Robert Frost’s poems use a simple language that everyone can understand in order to make sure the central theme is well received. Frost is one of the most popular, and recognizable American poets as the emotions felt within his poems are very relatable to readers. One cannot help but read a Frost poem, and feel a connection to the situation, or emotions it conveys. Robert Frost enjoyed writing poems regarding everyday events, and feelings that we all can understand. Everyone goes through a wide range of emotions throughout their life, and Frost expressed the various emotions he experienced within his literary works. The majority of his poems have a location or setting within nature such as a snowy forest, an apple orchard, or even dark seedy city streets. He chose such locations to make it identifiable to readers to ensure the meaning of it was not lost. In Robert Frost’s poem “Acquainted with the Night” a variety of techniques are utilized such as colloquial diction, vivid imagery, a distinct rhyming scheme, and stanza structure to express the emotions being conveyed in a manner that can be understood, and felt by all.
The structure in “Acquainted with the Night” is very specific with great use of white space in order for the reader to focus on the words, and grasp the emotion. The poem is broken down into four tercets, or stanzas with three lines then it is finished with a couplet at the end. Robert Frost could have written this poem in blank verse or free verse, but he instead chose a very ordered structure. If it was not structured as it is, then the meaning, and emotion behind it would be lost. Each tercet can be viewed as a stopping place for the character in the poem, and at each tercet they have a distinct experience leading up to couplet which is the conclusion of the journey: “Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right, I have been one acquainted with the night” (Frost lines 13-14). These two lines conclude the emotional journey for the main character in the poem in that it is alright to be alone, and that it is not a bad thing. The character spent all night searching for a human connection, but in the end they could not fine one, so they accepted their situation of being alone, and being one with the night. Having this emotional climax as a couplet sets in apart from the rest of the poem insuring that the reader will receive, and understand the desired emotion, which would be lost if the poem was either written in free verse, or blank verse.
In addition to the structure of the poem, the rhyming scheme also plays a significant part in conveying the tone, feel, and emotion of the piece. The poem has an exact rhyme scheme in that the rhyming occurs at the last word of the line, and the two words rhyme exact such as “I have been one acquainted with the night” (Frost line 1) and “I have outwalked the furthest city light” (Frost line 3). This poem has a rhyme pattern of aba bcb cdc ded ee, and is in iambic pentameter, both of which add to the overall feeling of the poem. The rhyming gives the poem a flow from one line to the next giving you an emotional feeling of someone on a journey moving alone at night. When lines rhyme I feel it gives a greater emphasis to the words within the poem, and you truly feel the emotional weight of them, such as “I have looked down the Saddest city lane” (Frost line4) and “And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain” (Frost line 6). Since these two lines rhyme perfectly you can feel the emotional sadness of the character that they went to a bad part of town “Saddest city lane” and could still not find a human connection.
Even though rhyme and structure are very important to Frost in amplifying the emotions in the poem to be understood by all, the diction, and language used is the most important aspect to these emotions. Frost uses a perfect selection of words expressed in a colloquial diction in order for the readers to feel exactly what he is attempting to make us feel. By using colloquial diction such as, “But not to call me back or say good-by” (Frost line 10) we understand clearly that the cries the main character heard from the houses in the lines before it, were from people that did not want to speak to him, and he was still alone. If the line was written in a more poetic style then the emotional response would have been lost. There are many prime examples of colloquial diction within the poem: “I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet” (Frost line 7). With lines such as that example that keep the language simple the readers understand and feel how alone the main character truly is throughout their journey, and the loneliness that they feel. We feel their emotions as they search for a human connection, and find none. While Frost uses colloquial diction within the poem, he also uses great imagery to paint a vivid picture of what the main character is experiencing throughout their journey with such lines as, “One luminary clock against the sky” (Frost line 12). We can visualize the main character staring up at a clock in the middle of the night all alone. This visualization strikes great emotion within the reader; a person standing all by themselves in the middle of the night staring up at clock. One cannot help, but feel lonely and sad when reading it. We feel that the character stares at the clock because they feel time is almost up searching for the human connection, we feel their journey coming to an end. We feel the sadness of the failure of their goal coming to close. Frost’s use of colloquial diction and imagery make us the readers experience the emotions of the poem on a deeper level.
All of these literary techniques I have discussed amplify the emotions within the poem so that all readers can feel them, and understand the overall meaning. The poem “Acquainted with the Night” describes a person wondering the night in a desperate search for a human connection to ease their loneliness, but they cannot find anyone. In the end they accept that they will be alone. Robert Frost uses the techniques I expressed so everyone can feel the emotions he wished to get across in his words. Frost’s poems are relatable, because the emotions within them are ones that we all experience in our lives. Frost’s poems will always be popular due to those facts, since we all find comfort in connecting emotions we feel to those we witness in the art we enjoy.
Frost, Robert. “Acquainted with the Night.” The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry Vol. 1, edited by Jahan Ramazani, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2003, pp. 217-18.