‘The meeting at Night’ by Robert Browning is a short poem based on a man who is journeying across the shore at night in effort to reunite with his lover. He is overwhelmed with love and paints a beautiful picturesque image of his surroundings while travelling across the sea. Browning fell in love with a poet whose father did not approve of his relationship. Even though Browning never truly identifies himself as the man in the poem, the poem almost acts as a description of his entangles.
The poet begins the poem by setting a vivid image of a dark night. He accomplishes this by using multiple colors to describe every element of the evening. For example, ‘grey sea’ and ‘black land’, the use of this description and imagery gives the reader the impression that the persona is in love. One may assume this because when one is in love, they start noticing striking colors in their atmospheres. Furthermore, the setting of a beach, especially during late hours, portrays romance and love.
The journey to meet the persona’s significant other takes place at night implicating secrecy. The constant reminders of the ‘black’ sky further emphasize the illicit relationship spoken about in the poem. One can infer this because it is during the night that one usually does secretive things. In the poem, the poet never really directly mentions the word ‘night’ in the poem, apart from the title. However he does mention ‘the yellow half-moon large and low’ creating a more detailed image of the setting.
The poet also uses personification to describe the ‘startled waves that leap’; this description is used by Browning to show the fear instilled in the persona further showing that the relationship between the two was not approved of. Browning also describes the waves motion to be in ‘fiery ringlets’. The use of the word ‘fire’ could also display the fire that the persona feels in the moment. Fire is also very chaotic and the contrast between these disorderly movements and the peacefulness of sleep highlights the amount of things that the man notices.
In the second stanza, the poet mentions the ‘warm sea-scented beach’. The use of the word ‘warm; brings out the love and the warmth the man feels within themselves. Furthermore, the alliteration after ‘warm’ brings out the olfactory imagery being displayed. The reader already has the knowledge that the man is located on a beautiful beach, by adding these two words to the phrase, Browning draws attention to the setting. Also, the continuous use of sibilance in the poem brings out a softer side because the ‘s’ sound in this context is very soothing adding to the loving tone of the poem.
The male persona then appears at a windowpane where he meets his significant other over where they light a match. This also implicates that it’s dark showing the illicit aspect of this relationship. Furthermore when one lights a match a spark is created and this lighted match could symbolize the spark between the two lovers and the fire in between them. The repetitive use of fire throughout the love-filled poem additionally exhibits the passion between the lovers.
Lastly, the auditory imagery used in the last two lines of the poem displays the amount of affection the two feel for each other. The poet concludes the poem with the ‘two hearts beating each to each!’ The beating hearts show excitement and the repetition of the word ‘each’ highlights the passionate sound of the hearts beating. The exclamation point at the end of the poem could show how the poem abruptly ends after the two meet displaying passion and fire.
The emotions expressed in Browning’s ‘Meeting At Night’ are one of passion and love. These feelings are effectively shown by his uses of Diction, Imagery, and various other literary devices.