Andrew has a cracking interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.
Robert Frost And A Summary of Mending Wall
Written in 1914, Mending Wall is a poem in blank verse that remains relevant for these uncertain times. It involves 2 rural neighbors who one jump day come across to walk forth the wall that separates their properties and repair it where needed.
The speaker in the verse form is a progressive individual who starts to question the need for such a wall in the beginning identify. The neighbor beyond the hill is a traditionalist and has, it seems, little time for such nonsense.
‘Expert fences make proficient neighbors,‘ is all he volition say.
Nosotros all have neighbors, we all know that walls eventually demand repairing. Walls separate and keep people apart, walls deny correct of passage and notwithstanding provide security. Despite the need for such a barrier, the opening line –
Something there is that doesn’t beloved a wall, –
implies that the idea of a wall isn’t that straightforward.
Robert Frost, in his own inimitable way, invites the reader into controversy past introducing mischief into the poem. The speaker wants to put a notion into the head of his neighbour, to ask him to explain why is it good walls brand
but in the terminate says nothing.
A wall may seem useful in the countryside as it could help go on livestock safe and secure and marking a definite boundary. Simply a wall that separates village from village, metropolis from city, country from state, people from people, family from family – that’s a completely dissimilar scenario.
Robert Frost’south verse form tin can help pinpoint such issues and bring them out into the open.
Something at that place is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell nether information technology,
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 ane rock on a rock,
Only they would take the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No i has seen them made or heard them made,
But at bound mending-time we observe them there.
I permit my neighbour know across the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once once more.
We continue the wall betwixt us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
Nosotros have to apply a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We article of clothing our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
1 on a side. It comes to trivial more:
There where it is we do non need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple tree orchard.
My apple tree trees volition never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He simply says, “Skillful fences brand expert neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
practice they brand good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where at that place are cows? Simply 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 offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it downwardly.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I run across him there
Bringing a rock grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an one-time-rock barbarous armed.
He moves in darkness equally it seems to me,
Non of forest only and the shade of trees.
He volition not go backside his father’due south saying,
And he likes having thought of it then well
He says once again, “Expert fences brand good neighbours.”
Assay of Mending Wall – Form, Meter and Rhythm
Frost uses blank poesy for the form of the poem. Blank verse is unrhymed and mostly employs iambic pentameter, five feet per line, to drive the narrative:
Someaffair / there
under information technology,
Whorl to Go along
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Sometimes Frost volition apply a trochee (DUMda) to get-go his line, giving sharp emphasis to the first syllable – as with the first line above:
Something / there
but usually iambs rule (daDUM) within the x syllables per line, which keeps the wall intact merely leaves room for modification. However, lack of end-rhyme in bare poesy denies the purely lyrical then the poet is certain that all 45 lines will have an private audio.
- Frost’s genius lies in his wording and commitment – he’s colloquial withal profound, and there are lines here that stay in the memory because they take a certain rhythm and music. They tempt the mind and please the vocalisation.
As the verse form progresses the differences between the two get more marked.
By line xiv
the two neighbors are walking either side of the wall, picking up and replacing diverse shaped boulders until they achieve some copse where in that location might not be a need for a wall.
The speaker goads the other protagonist. This is Frost the poet spicing things upward with mischief and fun by suggesting this annual, seasonal walk is nothing more a game, that ane neighbour is
and the other an
Tension becomes apparent as soon as the line
Good fences make good neighbors
appears in line 27, for it is this answer that sparks the speaker’due south demand to know why a wall (a argue) can brand somebody good.
We’re approaching moral territory here and in lines 32/33/34 an interesting result arises:
- When a wall is built, something is walled in and something is walled out. Information technology becomes easier to offend someone and so it’southward best to know beforehand only exactly why a wall needs to be constructed. Little wonder President Kennedy used Frost’south lines when speaking at the Berlin Wall in the 1960s.
‘I am both wall builder and wall destroyer,’ Frost wrote to his friend Charles Foster. Meaning? As a poet, words are used to build up something solid and hopefully enduring whilst at the same fourth dimension a poet needs to intermission down walls that are no longer needed and are in fact obstacles to progress. Frost magically manages both with relative ease.
Farther Analysis of Mending Wall – Significant
But what is information technology that doesn’t beloved a wall? In this common cold, rural setting common sense shows us that bloated ground upsets the stone formation; Nature herself knows no boundaries. Tree roots, hunters and dogs, even Elves, may be responsible for other gaps in the wall.
- The speaker taunts and teases but it’southward more an internal mind game – in that location is no real, open up dialogue or fence nigh the necessity of a wall. But at that place is the feeling that the speaker could well exist without a wall, whilst the entrenched neighbor relies on bequeathed/patriarchal ties to maintain the solid barrier of stone.
So as we nearly the end of the poem the scene becomes i of observer and observed. The traditionalist is now
…………like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of forest only and the shade of copse.
He will not go behind his begetter’southward saying.
There are subtle variations on a monologue. The speaker is trying to convey the idea that in that location’s this thick-skinned male he shares a boundary with, whose very identity is dependent on the wall existence repaired so every bit to ensure continuity.
Despite the gap between speaker and neighbour, in the end the wall gets mended.
Norton Anthology, Norton, 2005.
Staying Live Anthology, Bloodaxe, 2002
The Verse Handbook, Ivan Dee, by John Lennard, OUP, 2005
© 2016 Andrew Spacey
Who is the Speaker of the Mending Wall