Introduction to the Poem- Meeting at Night

Publication: Browning’s Meeting at Night is a very popular love poem in English literature. It was first published in Dramatic Romances and Lyrics in December 1845. Parting at Morning is its sequel. Initially, Browning wrote a poem entitled Night and Morning. Later, he divided the poem into two separate poems. The first part is Meeting at Night and the second part is Parting at Morning.

Speaker: The poem is written in first person singular number. It is the voice of a male lover. The speaker or narrator of the poem himself is the lover.

Theme: This short poem contains only twelve lines. It describes the speaker’s journey to his lady-love. His beloved lives in a secluded farm across the bay. The lover journeys at night through the sea and the land to meet his beloved secretly. The journey ends in their meeting. It is, however, not a mere narrative of the lover’s journey to meet his beloved. The poem also explores the inner passion that the lover feels on his way to meet his beloved. The poem ends with the consummation of the lovers’ deep and warm passion for each other through the occurrence of the much-anticipated meeting.

Browning-Barrett Courtship and the Poem: The poem is autobiographical. It reflects the Browning-Elizabeth Barrett love affair. In 1845, Browning met Elizabeth Barrett whose poetry impressed him. Because of her ill health and her strict father, she had no relation with the outer world and was practically confined within the boundaries of her home. Browning was her only friend. Gradually, a relationship of love developed between them. They would meet secretly since Elizabeth’s father did not approve of Browning. After a number of secret meetings, they got married and went to Italy on September 12, 1846. But Browning never identified himself with the speaker of the poem, Meeting at Night.

Type of the Poem: This poem is a lyric. It is not a dramatic monologue since it does not reveal the speaker’s character or temperament in a dramatic situation. It does not fulfill the essential features of dramatic monologue. There is no silent listener.

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