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Meeting at Night

Meeting at Night

by Robert Browning

Heat

Symbol Analysis

The poem describes waves as "fiery ringlets." There is a lighted match in the second stanza, and there are also various other things that remind us of heat, especially the "warm sea-scented beach." In addition to these more literal references to heat, however, we shouldn't forget to mention that the poem is partly about love and passion, a different, more metaphorical "heat" that is registered in the beating hearts of the concluding lines.

  • Line 2: The "yellow half-moon" makes us think of something warm and comforting. The more common, whitish color of the moon has always seemed kind of cold, right?
  • Line 4: The speaker observes the waves in "fiery ringlets." Waves don't literally "leap" or "sleep," so this is an example of personification, the attribution of human qualities to non-human things. Also, the speaker compares the waves to something that is fiery and sleeps, which means these are also metaphors.
  • Line 7: The speaker describes the beach near the sea as "warm."
  • Line 10: Someone lights a match, something that we all know is incredibly hot. In a way, the lighting of the match is a symbol of passion. Are you familiar with the metaphor we use nowadays about relationships involving the word "spark," as in "I really feel a spark with this one"?
  • Line 12: The incredibly loud volume of the "two hearts beating each to each" suggests that there is some serious passion here, or at least some romantic heat.
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