In the second part of the home, the narrator tried to stop following the devil and, in the third part, the reader is brought back to the setting. The narration is again in third person, or perhaps the narrator is just not personally present in the setting. This third part of the poem is used to describe night and in particular all of its nooks and crannies that are often overlooked. For example, the first line mentions streetlamps and then notes how the moonlight bounces off the “empty squares.” Here I’m imagining Victorian gas lamps and the squares of glass that hold the light. Perhaps what the author is doing is trying to show the reader that night has as much texture and detail as day. After a while, the narrator’s eyes and ears adjust to the night (“and soon the eye a strange new vision learns” and “The ear, too”) and he starts to discern objects found in the darkness as well as he did in the daylight.
In the second part of the poem, the narrator is introduced and speaks in first person. The first part the poem sets the stage regarding setting while the second part introduces action. The narrator follows someone who is “shadow like and frail,” possibly referring to some underworld figure like the devil. Together they travel along dimly lit streets until they encounter various structures. First they come upon a tower where, as the figure indicates, “faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.” They then come upon a villa where “love died, stabbed by its own worshiped pair.” Finally they come upon a narrow arch where “hope died, starved out of its outmost lair.” Just like the Devil, faith, love, and hope are personified. In a way, they are personified so that they can be murdered.
The city of night represents the eternal world, the after world. From the introductory quote, we know that there is no happiness this place because “fate denies bliss to (living) mortals and to the dead.” The city that is described first stanza has no sun, meaning that it has no bliss, no spring time awakening, no hope, and no warmth. The sun can be interpreted to mean any number of things associated with light. The second stanza speaks about dreams and how the city is full of gloom. Since the gloom persists day in and day out, it appears like a dream. This causes the narrator to ask, since night and dreams are eternal lasting days and weeks and years, how can one then discern this dream from real life.
Perhaps the title indicates that this long poem is a combination of poetry and prose. The first stanza asks a series of questions that are more rhetorical than anything else. These questions make it clear that the narrator does not see the point in living out the last of years by pining for the past. He indicates that getting mad that his life is coming to an end and “wailing” about it is useless because others don’t care, they have “careless ears.” In the second stanza, the narrator embraces old age by equating it to truth. Thomson portrays old age as a “bitter old and wrinkled truth” and compares it to the falsity of youth, full of “false dreams, false hopes, false masks.” This is an unusual poem in that unlike many other writers, Thomson does not glamorize youth but rather embraces the positives associated with age.