Friday, 18 January 2013

Poetry Reads: Meeting at Night by Robert Browning


It is the background of nighttime. It feels like a painting with the ‘grey sea’, ‘the long black land’ and ‘the yellow half-moon large and low’. There is an element of anxiety in the ‘startled little waves’. The narrator hints at a clandestine rendezvous at night. The poem is not a description of usual romance where one serenades to the other. This is a description of someone who is risking a lot to be there with his beloved.

I

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

The second stanza speaks of the union of two hearts. It is still night and the narrator of the first stanza nears his destination. ‘A farm appears’ and there is this whole atmosphere of excitement, ‘thro’ its joys and fears’. They meet with the risk of being caught.

II

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

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(Review by Kabita Sonowal)

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