Short Analysis of Robert Browning’s Meeting at Night

Meeting at Night

Robert Browning

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.

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!


  • Sight         : “grey sea”, “long black land”, “yellow half-moon large”, “startled little waves”,  “fiery ringlets”, etc. (almost all the parts of this poem give sight imagery).
  • Hear         : “voice less loud”
  • Touch      : “warm sea-scented beach”

Surface meaning:

The Robert Browning’s poem, as the title shows it, is about a meeting at night of a couple who are in love with each other. To meet the woman, the man should do a very long journey through the sea with his boat, walking through three fields, until he arrives at a farm. Still, he has to be very careful when meeting her because exactly they are not allowed to meet each other. That’s why the man comes at night and they should talk with a very soft voice.

Deep meaning:

This poem is telling us about the process of a relationship. When someone could not find his love, he would feel so lonely in life. Robert Browning represented it with the phrase “the grey sea and the long black land”.  Love can be aimed to someone or dream. Then, to be able to reach his love, he passed trough many challenges and restrictions. However, he did it happily since he has a big optimistic. After all the hassles, he succeed to find what he’s been looking for. The loneliness then is gone and turned into brightness (“And blue spurt of a lighted match”). Finally, he got what he had been dreaming about.


  • Love is something that needs a hassle and sacrificial to be gotten.
  • A success will be reached if someone has a big motivation and works hard pass trough many challenges and restrictions.


To reach our love/dream, we have to work hard and enjoy the process. By doing it, we will find the real happiness of our success.

37 thoughts on “Short Analysis of Robert Browning’s Meeting at Night

    • Thank you so much 🙂
      Well, I’m just a beginner here.
      Feel free to give your critics or additional analysis 😀


      • Nice 1 indeed.U were able 2 give d surface meaning and deep meaning.But nxt tym,relate each meanin 2 d quote 4rm d poem.Kip it up…
        Thank you.


  1. When you realize that this poem is about an illicit romantic meeting, especially in the time it was written, then ‘as i gain the cove with pushing prow’ and ‘quench its speed i’ the slushy sand’ take on a whole new level of meaning. The blue spurt now becomes obvious. PASSION.


  2. I have loved that poem since I was a teenager (many years ago!) in Australia. We learned it in English Literature class. I was immediately taken by the imagery and the brevity of words conveying so much meaning. The poem always had the power to evoke for me such clear images of the action and the scene as well as conveying the urgency of the quest of the lovers to find each other, then succeeding in dead of night. It is truly romantic in more than just the modern conventional sense. I hadn’t thought about the deeper meaning which you have perceived – ie. the representation of the long black land and the grey sea as symbols of unfulfilled life through the absence of love. Or indeed the fulfilment of the dream of finding love as evinced by the light given off from the struck match. Very astute of you! I wish you success in your searching for love! David


    • Aww.. Thank you so much 🙂 I made the analysis long time ago for a presentation in my university. My lecturer always taught us about analyzing the deep meaning in any poem and this is what I got for this one. Good to know that someone like it 🙂 Wish you all the best too with your love life 😉


  3. this poem makes me fly on the romantic dreams since my lover faces the challenges to meet my finally … thank u Robert Brown for your great poem .


  4. I am doing a report on Robert Browning in my 8th grade english class and I am choosing this poem for the one I have to memorize and share to the class.


  5. Okay, here is my take on the analysis. It is garbage. Sorry. It is a great poem and it speaks for itself. The author had no deeper meaning. It is a personal reflection of an event that he no doubt experienced. There is no deeper meaning. It is what it is. That’s what makes it so perfect.


    • Hahaha… yea, I realized that. I made the analysis 3 years ago, it was a struggle for me to learn English since I couldn’t use English for daily conversation in my country. But well… at least I tried.. 😀


  6. This poem is not only about the process of a relationship. This poem is also about sex. think about it- “pushing prow”. And the reason there is a “voice less loud…” is because this ‘meeting’ might not be allowed, maybe the two lovers are having an affair.


  7. It is one of the Browning’s magnum opus creation. The imageries in each line describe the lover’s feelings towards his beloved.




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    may not be able to fit the baggage in the dermis layer of skin, which leads to filling of the draw.
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  10. this is really a wondrful poem. any person who’s in love will feel the lines. i am looking forward to read all love-poems by Browning.


  11. well,the poem is unquestionably rich in syntax by following abccba stanza pattern in both and it certainly creates a clinching effect in mind.The verse contains throbbing sense ,a vigorous spirit of a lover who doesn’t long for restraining his Byronic amorous desires within the four walls of a cozy corner even in nocturnal atmosphere.whatsoever the platonic desire steadfastly meets its apex and the cumulative endeavor of heart finds an echo from the opposite horizon.The most splendid and deft use of symbolism has been delineated through fiery ringlets,grey sea and the blue part.It is indeed, an eldorado,a xanadu for a lover who finds his heart’s content at cost of a nocturnal venture,the token of his optimism.


  12. Pingback: Onomatopoeia | Poetry Project 2014

  13. its a grt thought of Browning. especially its a msg for those who r struggling in life (not only for love).they must b hopeful after reading it that they will reach to their destiny after having the struggle finished(gain the cove).its breed an effort to find a way out frm any kind of difficulties.


  14. this is wonderful romantik love poem, and also related with sex-affair. the poet talking about himself passively. it may give romantic love thought to the students, they would be helped with it…


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