Acquainted with the Night is a sonnet. Frost has experimented with the form of a sonnet by fusing the rhyme scheme, terza rima. This complex rhyme scheme was invented by Dante for his work ‘Divine Comedy.’
In terza rima, the first and third lines rhyme while the second line rhymes with the first and third lines of the next stanza. This interlocking pattern makes this rhyming scheme too hard to be attempted by poets. The scheme is ABA BCB CDC DAD AA.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is tied with the images and ideas expressed in the poem. The stanzas progress from simple realistic description to complex and abstract ideas. Unlike Shakespeare who put the condensed idea in the last two lines of his sonnet, Frost deals in a simpler way but the form remains that of a sonnet.
William Blake has expressed a similar narration of this poem in his poem ‘London.’ He wrote, “I wander thro’ each charter’d street, near where the charter’d Thames does flow. And mark in every face I meet, marks of weakness, marks of woe.” Frost expresses something very similar but lonelier.
The use of the word ‘acquainted’ here is loaded with dual sense. It tells us that the narrator has knowledge about the night but it is not an intimate knowledge. It has a kind of detachment that comes from sadness.
The narrator is expressing his lonely human state which is common to all of us. Whether his loneliness comes from society or it is self-imposed, one cannot say.
The narrator wanders alone. Here, the loneliness at night is almost existential. The phenomenon is urban because the poet describes streets and city lights. When the poet writes ‘I have been one acquainted with the night‘, we get to know that the person has gone through a long time like this to finally declare about his familiarity with night.
The narrator is reflecting upon himself. It is not mere solitude but loneliness. When one is solitary, one enjoys but when one feels loneliness, it means he is sad. His state of isolation represents all of humanity.
All of us are waiting for someone to call to take part in our life. Here, the narrator stops while walking and, in such silence, a cry comes from the next street and the narrator laments that it is not a cry to call him or say him goodbye but some anonymous cry.
After the middle part of the poem, we confront abstract ambiguities. Why the narrator was not willing to explain anything to the watchman? The luminary clock is not described precisely in the poem. It does comment upon the passage of time. Nature doesn’t judge the way we human beings judge.
So, the luminary clock proclaimed that the time was neither wrong nor right. Once we are acquainted with the loneliness which is common to all of us no matter what the condition of our life is, we will see that the world is indifferent to this existential condition of ours.
When looked closely, we can only look into ourselves. We have no full knowledge of anything else. We interpret the world according to our mood which the narrator in this poem does too. We can only describe our familiarity.