Acceptance, Robert Frost: Summary & Analysis

In "Acceptance" by Robert Frost, the poet explores the concept of acceptance in the face of inevitable change and the approaching darkness of night. Through a contemplative and introspective tone, Frost reflects on the natural world's response to the setting sun and the transition to darkness. The poem conveys a sense of resignation and surrender to the natural order of things.

Acceptance by Robert Frost

When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
And goes down burning into the gulf below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened. Birds, at least must know
It is the change to darkness in the sky.
Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
One bird begins to close a faded eye;
Or overtaken too far from his nest,
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be.'

Critical Analysis

"Acceptance" delves into the idea of accepting change and the approaching darkness without resistance. The poem begins with the sun's transition, as it throws up its rays on clouds and descends into the horizon, burning into the "gulf below." Frost observes that despite this dramatic change, there is no audible outcry from nature, suggesting a sense of inevitability and harmony in the natural order.

The imagery of birds and their reactions further emphasizes the theme of acceptance. As the sun sets, birds react to the changing light and conditions. One bird is depicted as closing a "faded eye," signaling the gradual transition from day to night. Another bird hurries to its nest, displaying a sense of familiarity and a desire for safety. The poem suggests that these creatures respond to the changing environment with a quiet acceptance, understanding that the cycle of day and night is beyond their control.

The concluding lines, "Let the night be too dark for me to see / Into the future. Let what will be, be," capture the essence of the poem's message. The speaker expresses a willingness to let go of the need to anticipate or control the future. The phrase "Let what will be, be" reflects an attitude of surrender and acceptance in the face of uncertainty and change.

Themes of the Poem

  • Acceptance of Change: The poem explores the theme of embracing change and the inevitability of transitions, both in nature and in life.
  • Resignation: The poem reflects a sense of surrender and peaceful resignation to the natural cycles and unknown future.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Imagery: The imagery of the setting sun, birds' reactions, and the transition from day to night enhances the poem's contemplative atmosphere.


  • Quiet Acceptance: The poem conveys a sense of tranquility and acceptance, as nature and the birds respond calmly to the changing conditions.
  • Letting Go: The speaker expresses a willingness to release the need for control and the desire to predict the future.


  • Melancholic Tone: The poem's tone is reflective and introspective, reflecting the speaker's contemplation of the natural world and its lessons.
  • Metaphor: The sun's descent and the transition to darkness serve as a metaphor for broader life changes and transitions.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythm and Rhyme: The poem follows a rhythmic pattern and rhyme scheme, contributing to its musicality and conveying a sense of continuity.

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