Study Guide

Acquainted with the Night Dissatisfaction

By Robert Frost

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I have been one acquainted with the night (1 and 14)

To be "acquainted" is unsatisfying – not friends, but not enemies either. This line, which frames the poem, shows how even in his feelings towards the night, the speaker is stuck in the unsatisfying middle.

But not to call me back or say good-by (10)

When the speaker hopes for human contact and is disappointed, his dissatisfaction is perpetuated. He's alone, at night, and nothing is quite right. Yet he's not overly emotional about his loneliness; he just quietly reflects upon this cry that was not for him.

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. (13)

This line is the epitome of dissatisfaction: the time, and, we can infer, the speaker's life, is neither wrong nor right. The speaker uses the image of the moon and time as his last and strongest image. This way, when we read "I have been one acquainted with the night," we're still thinking about how the time is neither wrong nor right, which adds a new level to the repetition of the last line. Is the time neither wrong nor right because the speaker is acquainted with the night?

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