Study Guide

Meeting at Night Man and the Natural World

By Robert Browning

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Man and the Natural World

There's a lot of nature in "Meeting at Night" (the land, the sea, the moon, the beach, fields). In some instances, nature is clearly an obstacle, something that must be negotiated during the speaker's journey to the farm house. In other instances, nature is sort of like a blank sheet of paper, something on which the speaker can inscribe his own thoughts and feelings. For this reason, the various natural features in the poem also take on a symbolic role, representing things like passion and love.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. How does the speaker feel about nature? Is it simply an obstacle to overcome?
  2. Why do you think there's more description of nature than of the speaker's lover? What impact does that have on the poem?
  3. How does the speaker's errand – going to meet his lover at night – influence the way he sees his natural surroundings?
  4. How would this poem have been different if it were set in an urban location?

Chew on This

The poem's interest in symbolizing nature suggests that nature isn't really "real," but rather that it is merely what we choose to think it is.

While the poem seems interested in nature, it's really more interested in the psychological processes by which we interpret and reflect on nature.

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