Meeting at Night

Robert Browning composed this poem during his courtship of Elizabeth Barrett, which her father forbad. The couple eventually eloped and settled in Italy; Elizabeth was never able to reconcile with her father.

            MEETING AT NIGHT

The gray 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, through joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

-Robert Browning

Portraits by Thomas Buchanan Read, 1852.

7 thoughts on “Meeting at Night

  1. I have always thought it very sad that these two had to settle in another country in order to enjoy their lives together and that she became estranged from her father – just because he regarded Robert Browning as a ‘fortune hunter’! They proved him wrong.


  2. Wow, I never knew they never reconciled. How sad. But you know about poetry, or for me, I could only write when I was terribly miserable. Now, I am so happy I couldn’t write it. I am more of a Robert Louis Stevenson type when I write poetry. ” Up in the air…” I love their poetry though.


  3. How sad that EBB’s father was so controlling but at least she and R were able to ‘escape’ and make a life together.


  4. I must reread this couple’s story which I have almost forgotten. My grandmother was somewhat disowned by her father when she married my grandfather, but they did reconcile, somewhat, later in life. My grandfather was a fine man.


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