In the two poems, “Meeting at Night” and “Parting at Morning”, Robert Browning tells about the meeting of two lovers at night who are in love with each other. In order to meet the woman, the man undergoes a long journey through the sea and land. However, even after all this trouble, he must be secretive because they are not allowed to see each other. The second poem, however, tells of the very next day, when the man leaves the woman and seems to move on.
Browning structures these two poems in order to give the reader a better understanding of the meaning of the poem. At the beginning of the poem, the man seemingly recounts his journey, briefly describing his surroundings as he passes them, noting any possible significance they may have to him. Browning incorporates alliteration at the end of each line in this poem, as he passed through “the long black land” and saw the moon “large and low,” creating the image of the environment which the man passes through.
The use of the word “long” describes his lengthy trip on land, while the moon lying “large and low” in the sky tells of the time of his travel, the moon is low because he is traveling late into the night. Browning employs the ensuing alliteration serves the purpose of describing the journey through the senses. The “pushing prow” of his movement and “the slushy sand,” which absorbed each step describes the purpose the man walked with as he walked across the “sea-scented beach.
” Browning is able to paint the man’s expedition through these alliterations.
An interesting note of structure I found in this poem is that each stanza could be read from the last line up to the middle line (as opposed to the regular way of reading). By doing so, the reader can understand the poem better as the man reaches his ultimate destination of love in the center of each poem. In the first stanza, the woman is described with a synecdoche through her hair as “fiery ringlets from their sleep” and “startled little waves that leap. ” This could mean that her hair was her most defining feature, according to her lover (the man).
In the second stanza, the woman is described as a “voice less loud” and a “quick sharp scratch” coming from within the house. This can be inferred through Browning’s use of soft, feminine words. The use of the words “less loud” could possibly allude to the fact that the two lovers are not allowed to see each other, making this meeting a secret one. The “quick sharp scratch” resembles that of a small, peephole in the door which the woman looks through in order to ensure the identity of the man.
When reading “Meeting at Night” the reader must also consider the poem “Parting at Morning” as they relate to one another. Although they can both be read separately, reading them together leaves the reader with a different understanding, as “Parting at Morning” provides a different ending, a different resolution to the two lover’s secret meeting. The use of anaphora in this short, one stanza poem indicates excitement in the man as he looks on to “a path of gold” leading to “a world of men” as “the sun looked over the mountain’s rim.
This could indicate that the man was moving forward from his time with the woman and looking forward to setting sail onto lands unknown, with the promise of gold. This is due to the fact that it was general sailor’s belief that women were bad luck on ships, and therefore was generally unwelcome. The words “cape,” “sea,” and “strait” evoke images of the sea, as they are all bodies of water, and therefore allude to the man being a sailor (which wasn’t as specified in “Meeting at Night”).