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Themes

We're not sure about the timeline of "Acquainted with the Night," but the repetition of the phrase "I have been" seems to signal that the poem speaks about multiple repeated nights, which all took place in the past. At the same time, all of the events in the poem easily could have taken place in one night. This makes the speaker seem lost in the hours of the night, when the time is neither wrong nor right.

Questions About Time

  1. When did this poem happen? On multiple nights in the past, or on one night? Did it actually happen at all, or is it just a metaphor?
  2. Why is the time "neither wrong nor right"?
  3. Is the "luminary clock in the sky" a real clock, or is it the moon? Why?
  4. Is the speaker the kind of guy who could tell the time from the moon? What evidence of this do we have in the poem?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The "night" in this poem is not just one night, but a series of nights.

The idea of the time being "neither wrong nor right" is continued through the entire poem by images showing the speaker's dissatisfaction.

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