An Analysis of “Meeting at Night,” by Robert Browning

In his poem “Meeting at Night,” Robert Browning uses personification to exaggerate the romantic mood of his poem. By mentioning the “startled little waves” and their “fiery ringlets,” he projects the speaker’s excitement about his situation onto the setting of the poem (Browning, 1845). The “grey sea” and the “long black sand” that stand in the subject’s way are assigned bleaker colors, as opposed by the “yellow…moon” that provide the subject with light (Browning, 1845). This color gradient also increases in heat as the speaker reaches his/her beloved, the grey sea being chilly and the blue region of a flame being its hottest part.

By describing the taps on the window panes as a “sharp scratch,” Browning is incorporating auditory imagery and alliteration to create a sense of haste (Browning, 1845). Alliteration is further used when mentioning the two voices that spoke “less loud” to emphasize the pair’s failed attempt to conceal their animation, or when speaking of the subject who would “push and prow,” rather than simply hard work,  to emphasize the effort he puts into meeting his companion (Browning, 1845). The beach is “Sea-scented,” a detail that further romanticizes the environment and creates the auditory image of the sound of the spraying seawater with the repetition of the letter “s”(Browning, 1845). The poet uses onomatopoeia in describing the sand as “slushy”- a feature that further emphasizes the resisting nature of the environment surrounding the subject- and mentions the blue “spurt” of the match to imply the subject struck it with haste (Browning, 1845).

The poem’s conclusion with the two hearts that beat each to each is a hyperbole that exaggerates the nature of the love between the subject and their partner (Browning, 1845). Browning uses anaphora in starting two consecutive lines with the word “And” in both the first and second stanza to expresses the adrenaline rush the subject is feeling that allows him to absorb the minute details of the world around him (Browning, 1845). The poem follows an ABCCBA rhyme scheme. Its symmetrical pattern is yet another beautiful feature that highlights the romantic mood the poet sets. The poem’s animated nature is further emphasized by the poet’s use of an exclamation mark in the conclusion of the poem.

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