Robert Frost is one of the most celebrated American poets of the 20th century, having earned four Pulitzer Prizes for his works. His poetry often explores universal themes such as the human condition, nature, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. One of his most famous poems is "Mending Wall," first published in 1914. This poem is a commentary on the human tendency to build physical and emotional walls and the struggle to break them down. It is a complex and thought-provoking work that explores the nature of human communication and relationships.
In this blog post, we will explore the deeper meanings behind "Mending Wall," examining the themes, symbols, and language that Frost employs. We will also delve into the historical and cultural context of the poem, exploring the social and political issues that may have influenced Frost's writing. Additionally, we will analyze the poem's structure and form, looking at how Frost employs various poetic techniques to convey his message.
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 out-door 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.’
Robert Frost's renowned poem "Mending Wall" explores human boundaries, societal norms, and the inherent tension between tradition and progress. Through the symbolic act of mending a stone wall, Frost delves into deeper themes of isolation, communication, and the complexities of human relationships. The poem begins with the famous line, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall," immediately setting the stage for a philosophical inquiry into the necessity and purpose of barriers. Frost presents two contrasting perspectives: One character embodies the traditionalist view, stubbornly proclaiming, "Good fences make good neighbors," while the speaker questions the significance of these divisions. Frost subtly critiques the blind adherence to conventions and rituals, challenging the notion that walls are necessary for maintaining order and harmony. The poem serves as a metaphor for the walls we build both physically and emotionally, symbolizing the barriers that separate individuals and hinder genuine connection. Ultimately, Frost leaves the reader pondering the paradox of building walls to keep others out while inadvertently closing ourselves off from the richness of shared experiences and understanding. "Mending Wall" is a timeless reflection on the human tendency to erect barriers and raises profound questions about the true nature of unity and the cost of division.