Meeting At Night/ Parting At Morning – Appreciation Meeting at Night and Parting at Morning, composed by Robert Browning, are two poems that represent the personal morality and paradigms associated with an individual living in the early 19th Century. Meeting at Night tells the tale of a young lover travelling a long distance to meet up with his lover whilst it also metaphorically recounts a sexual encounter. Browning chooses to represent society’s repressive nature by portraying a secretive relationship (reflective of his own relationship with Elizabeth Barrett).
In, “And the startled little waves that leap/ in fiery ringlets from their sleep”, Browning uses personification in conjunction with a metaphor to portray that it is late at night and no one knows of their secret meeting. The setting, being very late at night, also symbolises the secrecy and deceit of their relationship. Browning uses onomatopoeia in “A tap at the pane” to also portray the silence and secrecy of the scene. The values and morals of the 19th century were predominately those of the church as religion was paramount in this time period.
This means that love, desire and sex were often regarded as forbidden or taboo ideas and so were rarely discussed in society. That is why Browning chooses to portray sex in a metaphorical sense rather than a literal. Browning uses imagery to vividly illustrate this concept such as in, “As I gain the cove with pushing prow”. The use of alliteration in “pushing prow” emphasises the ‘p’ sound which allows the reader to make associations with a phallic symbol. The rhyming scheme also creates an escalating pace which complements the text, allowing it to convey a fuller understanding of the sexual encounter.
The 19th century, being very conservative and strict, was a patriarchal society where societal gender roles defined your place in the world. Browning highlights this by only portraying the poem in the perspective of a male and his own desires and attitudes. This symbolically represents a relationship in this time period as women were seen as insignificant and so only the male was regarded and considered in a relationship. Also, only the male in a relationship will be working.
This is seen in Parting at Morning, where the lover leaves the scene with longing to return to his business and career. “And straight was a path of gold for him,/ And the need of a world of men for me. ” Browning uses a metaphor in conjunction with high modality in ‘need’ to represent the lover’s desire to return to his job. “world of men” is a metaphorical representation of the working class which was dominated by males. Meeting at Night and Parting at Moring are two poems composed by Robert Browning that represent the values and attitudes of society of the 19th century.