Poetry Response #3:“Meeting at Night”

A secret is perhaps one of the most thrilling things to possess. The poem, “Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning is about how a romance simply being unknown to the rest of the world can make it more exciting. The speaker believes that some secrets are worth keeping. Suspense and anticipation are the things that keep a romance alive and people in love. Browning uses imagery to get his point across, that there is no shortage of mystery in a secret rendezvous.

“Meeting at Night” would not be possible without imagery. The poem not only consists of it, the poem is imagery. Every line, down to every last word has a purpose in the poem’s careful construct. For example, “yellow half-moon… large and low” (2) gives away five descriptions in only five words. Browning could just say the moon is low in the sky, but instead he states which part of the cycle the moon is undergoing, what color it appears, how big it looks, and where it is in the sky. These five words succeed in offering a more vivid mental picture than any other words in the English language could. In this line, “tap at pane…quick scratch” (9), Browning implies a secret code is being shared between two people. This use of imagery makes the rendezvous all the more exciting for the reader because of the secretive tone. “Three fields cross…until farm” (8), in this line it is indirectly made obvious that the speaker has passed through this route many times already, which only furthers the impatient feel of the poem. The secret is the core positive factor in this romance.

The motives behind keeping an action, idea, occurrence or thought secret are infinite. Regardless of the reason, whether it is terror, need, bad intentions or good intentions, a secret always affects a person in basically the same way. Browning knows this and incorporates the symptoms into “Meeting at Night”. “Less loud…through joys…fears” (11), “than two hearts… beating” (12), in these two lines the presumed lovers are finally face to face. These interconnected lines both perfectly portray the thrill of a secret meeting. One never really knows if they are going to be caught or found out until it is all over, but for a little while the constant anxiety is put to the side when the two are reunited. Their meeting is a momentary reprieve from outside life, which therein lives the theme. Some secrets are definitely worth keeping.

With a secret, it can seem as if the secret keeper or keepers are living in a separate world, entirely of their own making. Browning incorporates this thrill of a sort of alternate reality into his poem, “Meeting at Night”. He uses imagery to create beautiful passages that represent what it truly means to know something that others do not. It is easy to keep a romance alive when there is no absence of anticipation and suspense. However, how can those involved be sure that it is real when they are not subjected to the tests of the outside world?





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