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Meeting at Night

Meeting at Night

by Robert Browning

Love Theme

OK, so "Meeting at Night" isn't your straightforward, "you're the greatest woman ever" love poem. That isn't to say it isn't a more subtle take on that type of poem. Let's not forget that the odds are pretty good that "Meeting at Night" is about Robert Browning's courtship of Elizabeth Barrett, and let's not also forget that the poem is about one of those secret lovers' meetings we all know so much about. Passion is everywhere in the poem. Why else would the speaker choose to describe the waves as "fiery" and mention other details like the match and the "warm sea-scented beach"?

Questions About Love

  1. Is the speaker in love? If so, what makes you think so?
  2. Does the person in the farmhouse love the speaker? Are they equally passionate about each other?
  3. Is it fair to assume this poem is about Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett? How does knowing about the poet and his courting of Barrett influence your reading of the poem?

Chew on This

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

The poem points to the ways in which love pervades every aspect of the life of the one experiencing it. Indeed, the speaker describes things with a strange rhetoric of light and warmth ("fiery" waves, a "warm" beach) that suggests his own passion.

The fact that the poem reads almost like a stream-of-consciousness narrative (the seemingly disconnected thoughts inside one person's head) implies that love can be a one-sided affair. The very fact that we always seem to be in the speaker's head suggests that we're only getting one perspective.

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