Tuesday 16 December 2014

Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 
And spills the upper boulders in the sun; 
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. 
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone, 
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, 
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, 
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 
But at spring mending-time we find them there. 
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; 
And on a day we meet to walk the line 
And set the wall between us once again. 
We keep the wall between us as we go. 
To each the boulders that have fallen to each. 
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls 
We have to use a spell to make them balance: 
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!' 
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, 
One on a side. It comes to little more: 
There where it is we do not need the wall: 
He is all pine and I am apple orchard. 
My apple trees will never get across 
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. 
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.' 
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder 
If I could put a notion in his head: 
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it 
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. 
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know 
What I was walling in or walling out, 
And to whom I was like to give offense. 
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 
That wants it down.' I could say ‘Elves’ to him, 
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather 
He said it for himself. I see him there 
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top 
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 
He moves in darkness as it seems to me, 
Not of woods only and the shade of trees. 
He will not go behind his father’s saying, 
And he likes having thought of it so well 
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.' 
Mending Wall by Ken Fiery 2007
This is a poem that embraces boundaries - the internal and external forces that keep us apart. 
Can we see the boundaries as the rules and laws of our society? Is the act of wall mending an act of justice? 

The world is made up of two types of people - wall builders and wall breakers?

Is mending the wall a creative endeavour?

But what is Frost 'discovering' in Mending Wall?

Is he discovering or rediscovering the mores and traditions of his society?
Is the 'discovery' the journey he takes with his neighbour each year to mend the wall? The importance of connection & shared endeavour?
Perhaps he is discovering what his relationship is to his fellow man (the neighbour)? Breaking down the barriers?
What does he discover about the mysterious wall breakers? 

What do you think?
What have you discovered by reading Mending Wall?


  1. Anonymous17/12/14

    observes 2x that There is something there that doesn't love a wall (smth = nature, hunters and himself)
    observes: " There where it is we do not need a wall"
    ...is mischevious and wants to put 'notion'in neighbor's head:
    Why doesn't neighbor think about why fences are good, what is the purpose of them and why don't we DISCUSS this fence?
    ....describes is neighbor as the oppsite of himself: he is pine ( hard, straight), old-stoned savage, moves in darkness, hide behind father's proverb.
    Narrator is our only source of information and speaks 99% of the time.
    Neighbor speaks 2x hiding behind an old proverb: " Good fences make good neighbors" .
    I noticed there is NO color in the poem and it feels as if our narrator remains dejected...without communication, no progress.
    "...we meet and walk the line and set the wall between us once again.
    we keep the wall between us as we go..."

  2. This is another great poem.

    I think that ultimately the narrator is more against the notion of such walls then he is in favor of them. Yet in the end he seems to be up against the opinion others, perhaps most others, as the poem ends with the neighbor repeating ‘Good fences make good neighbors.' line.


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