“Meeting at Night”
The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and row;
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.
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!
] The Theme of the Poem
This poem written by Robert Browning is a poem of love that describes clearly the man’s sailing on the sea to the bay on the beautiful night to go to the girl she loves and meets her at night. In here, it is said that the readers can feel the excitement and happiness of the couples on their meeting at night. It is very clear at the end of the poem that the woman is somehow nervous and afraid while waiting for the man she loves. But, upon hearing the man’s tap on the window pane, she is very happy and relieved to see him, which only shows how deep their love and missing is.
] Linguistic Analysis of the Poem by Liu Yueqin
Liu Yueqin has presented five linguistic presentation of the poem. Here is the following linguistic analysis he had in this poem of Robert Browning:
a. Phonological features
1. End rhyme
The rhyme scheme is, in the first stanza - abccba, in the second -dedded.
There are five end rhymes as follow:
a. [ ænd] land, sand; b. [∂u]row, prow; c. [I:p]leap, sleep; d, [I:t ]beach, scratch, match, each; e, [i∂s]appears, fears
long-land in line 1;the-that in line 3; fiery- from in line 4; pushing-prow in line 5; speed-slushy-sand in line 6; sea-scented in line 7; to-till and field-farm in line8; less-loud in line 11; than-the and two-to in line 12.
And the repeats 3 times in the poem, and there are totally 8 and in the poem. The repetition shows that the man is making long-time effort step by step to meet the woman, his lover. However, the effort is worthy since the man loves the woman and expects fiercely to see her, no matter it’s at night or at day. The refrain occurs at the close of a stanza, where it helps to establish meter, influence the mood of love, and add emphasis.
With the usage of end rhyme, alliteration and repetition, the poem creates aesthetic pleasure and shows the feeling of the couple.
b. Graphical features
The description of the scene on the sea and on the bay and about the meeting is vivid, elaborate and attracting. Through the different angles of vision (the gray sea, the long black land, the yellow half-moon, etc.), auditognosis (two hearts beating, etc), olfaction (scented), the readers can just feel like being in the situation, and appreciating the charming of meeting at night.
c. Lexical features
The poem is relatively brief; consist of simple specific concrete words, mainly adjectives and nouns, just like casual and gentle narration between lovers or dramatic monologue. There are 4 adjective words about color; they are gray, black, yellow and blue, to make the scene at night vivid to the readers. The readers can clearly know that the meeting is at night. The beautiful scene symbolizes the wonderful mood of the couple. In line 6, words of speed, slushy, sand have alliteration [s] for imitate the sound of the prow decreasing its speed and gently scrapping in the bay.
d. Syntactic features
All the sentences in the poem are statement just like dramatic monologue, what the author is very famous with. Many short sentences are linked into long sentences with devices of coordination with the usage of and. There are totally 5 lines beginning with and. Coordination gives clauses equal syntactic status, and establish peaceful mood. It seems that the man has met the woman at night many times, and gets very familiar with the process.
e. Semantic features
In first stanza, the author uses startled and fiery instead of surprising and hot. The personification gives human form or feelings to the waves and ringlets, inanimate objects to show that the man’s feeling is startled and fiery.
In second stanza, tap, scratch and spurt are gentler, lovelier, and shorter in time than knock, scrape, and spring. These words can vividly to describe the feeling of the couple. The man arrives at just outside of the house, and taps the glass with the love in his heart. When he is waiting for the appearance of the woman, he is very nervous and upset. The woman is also nervous and upset. After hearing the tap, she lights a match to lights the place and feels happy and fears to meet her lover.