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Mars Observer ♂ PRO 3:12pm, 5 October 2013
From the blog: marsweekly.wordpress.com/

7447269976_bc1167dd6e_bAcquainted with the Night


I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.  
- Robert Frost

Many people feel this poem, written by Robert Frost and published in 1928, is sad and lonely.  Scholars even go so far to describe 'the night' as a metaphor for depression which Frost may have been suffering from at the time.

My interpretation is very different and truly, the genius of Frost's writing is the ambiguity that leaves it open to interpretation by the reader (pre-dating Kurt Cobain by several decades).

To me, 'night' in the poem, though melancholic, represents a comforting, introspective solace - a transient reprieve from 'the day' and all that that entails and implies.

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Granted, not everyone shares that feeling and to some the very concept would be difficult to explain - thus the reason the narrator 'drops his eyes, unwilling to explain to the night watchman'.
“Some nights are made for torture, or reflection, or the savoring of loneliness.”   ― Poppy Z. Brite


And this makes me think - why is it that some amoung us fear the night, while others are drawn to it?

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One of my earliest memories of the night was as a child, likely around the age of 11.  My parents were throwing a party and had invited a lot of people over to the house.  As the music and laughter and talk continued well past midnight, I found myself laying awake in bed, unable to sleep that beautiful summer's night.

A gentle breeze flowed through the open window of my bedroom, bringing with it a purity that I find myself unable to describe.  And also an electricity.  A charge, that called me to it like a magnet.

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Getting out of bed and walking to the window I parted the golden-age-comic-book-cover patterned curtains of my window to look out, and to find that a beautiful, billowy, dense fog had descended to hold tight the land in a comforting night embrace.

Unable to contain my restlessness I got dressed, left my room, and proceeded down the hall and out the front door into the night, un-noticed by my parents or their guests in the living room at the further end of the house.

I don't know how far, or for how long I walked that night.  Time seemed to stand still.  The night air was invigorating and never did I feel tired.

Where the darkness and fog hid all but shapes and shadows from sight my other senses were hyper-alert.  I was acutely aware of the soft dampness that brushed my skin as I walked, and the night breeze dancing around me.

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The night was oddly silent and loud at the same time.  There was a silence that was more an absence of noise than silence, as if I were the only person in the world - a reprieve from the cacophony of my fellow man.  And yet the sound of the wind rustling through leaves, a chain clanging against a flagpole, a tin-can rattling on the pavement, and even the shuffling of my own feet played in perfect pitch and clarity.
"The night was sweet with the dust of autumn leaves that smelled as if the fine sands of ancient Egypt were drifting to dunes beyond the town."-Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
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I eventually returned home to find my mother, stern-faced at the door.  "Where have you been??!" she asked.   "I couldn't sleep..." I replied.   "And it's such a beautiful night.  I went for a walk" I said, glancing down at my feet momentarily to avert her gaze.  Looking back up I saw her face soften.  She seemed to understand.  "Well..." she said "next time you need to tell us, OK?  We were worried"

"OK" I said, and shuffled-off to bed, where dreams of the night stayed with me until the morning light.

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Since then, the night and I have become quite 'acquainted' - so many great memories:  Laying awake (when I should be asleep) listening to syndication runs of CBS's Radio's Mystery Theatre (on the radio).  Later, when I got a TV in my room, watching classic late-nite TV shows (B&W re-runs of 'The Avengers' and 'The Saint'); staying over at a friends where we'd spend the entire evening and early morning hours (until we drifted off to sleep from our respective couch or chair) watching cheesy 70's side-burn-and-leather-wrist-band horror shows or old episodes of The Twilight Zone 8079608387_540b39ac66_b8615337495_b58f8bf6c7_b

(late-night TV in the 80's was very different than late night TV today). Get-togethers with a half-dozen or more friends where we'd game all night or rent a stack of 8" laser discs, eventually falling asleep in a chair or on the floor or on the coffee table.  Nights in my room where I'd turn on the black light (which really brought the black velvet posters to life) and listen to Tangerine Dream as I drifted off.  Staying up alone in the computer room, lit by the soft glow of the monitor as the modem sang to life and connected me to the local BBS where hackers, phreakers, freaks and geek would online chat the night away.

And of course going for long night walks, sometimes with a friend or two, sometimes alone.

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Years later when my daughter was born and had her days and night mixed up - did I mind getting up with her and holding her until she went back to sleep while mom stayed in bed?  No. Not in the least.

If in life we are the sum of our experiences, I guess those early memories go a long way in explaining my love for the night, and my wanting to capture and convey that essence to others. And photography is the best way I know how to do that.
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Next week I'll share some of the tips I've learned on my 'journey into night' - and I'd love to hear yours as well (please feel free to leave a comment about your experiences if you like!)


www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNOpvojCGms
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