Meeting at Night
By Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)

I.
The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

II.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each.

This poem is written as two parts. However, it’s easily seen as a single poem with two stanzas instead of parts. The first part (or stanza) is about crossing a great distance in the middle of the night, perhaps starting at dusk. The second stanza is about the actual meeting.

The speaker is at sea at night, heading towards the black land in the distance. He briefly paints a picturesque image of night at sea but moves forward until he pulls his vessel up on to the sand.

He walks a mile along the beach and then across three fields until he approaches his goal, a farm. He taps at the window, sees the lighting of a match, and then is overwhelmed by the beating of his and his lover’s hearts as they reunite.

External link: Robert Browning (Wikipedia)

Photos © Arno Rafael Minkkinen

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