Mending Wall

 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 neighbour 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 neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? 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 offence.
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 neighbours.”

Summary of Mending Wall

  • Popularity “Mending Wall”: Written by Robert Frost, a great American poet, “Mending Wall” is a thought-provoking poem about human limitations and their benefits in the society. It was first published in 1914. The poem is about two neighbors who meet in spring every year to mend the stone wall that separates their farms. It illustrates how good fences make good neighbors, and how we can maintain long-lasting relations with neighbors by establishing such walls. Since its publication, it has gained immense popularity across the globe on account of its simple yet profound subject.
  • “Mending Wall” as a Representative of Tradition: This poem is about the activity of mending a wall that the speaker and his neighbor perform every year in spring. The narrator of the poem feels that there is no need for any boundary, as neither of them has anything precious to keep in lawns. They have just trees. To him, mending the wall is a purposeless activity. He also observes the falling of stones from the wall and comments that even nature is not in favor of this fence. However, his neighbor, being attached to his traditions, attempts to rationalize. He asserts that boundaries and distances are essential for relationships to work. However, what enchants the reader is the message he conveys that most relationships can work well with boundaries.
  • Major Themes in “Mending Wall”: Exploration, curiosity and the need of the gap are some of the major themes found in the poem. The poem presents a clash between the two, the speaker and his neighbor. Though they meet every year in the spring to fix the wall, yet the speaker is unable to understand what the necessity of the wall is. Out of curiosity, he questions about establishing the wall. However, he does not get any satisfactory answer. Every time, his neighbor stresses on the need for separation, implying good fences keep the relations cordial.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Mending Wall”

Literary devices are used to bring richness and clarity to the texts. The writers and poets use them to make their poem or prose texts appealing and meaningful. Frost has also employed some literary devices to discuss the importance of the fence. The analysis of literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as /e/ sound in “To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, No one has seen”.
  • Enjambment: Enjambment refers to the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet or stanza such as,

    “And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. Frost has used visual imagery in this poem such as, “And some are loaves and some so nearly balls”, “He is all pine and I am apple orchard” and “Not of woods only and the shade of trees.”
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as /n/ and /t/ sounds “And set the wall between us once again”.
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Similarly, “fence” symbolizes ‘gap’ that one should maintain to establish long-lasting relationships and to maintain privacy. “Nature” symbolizes the reunion of the two as the speaker meets his neighbor every year in spring to fix the fence.
  • Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. There is only one metaphor used in the poem. It is used in seventeenth line where it is stated as, “And some are loaves and some so nearly balls.” He compares the stone blocks to loaves and balls.

The literary analysis shows that Frost has skillfully used these devices to discuss the profound subject of limits and boundaries between human beings.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “Mending Wall”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. This is a long narrative poem written in one stanza with no break.
  • Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter comprising five iambs. This poem comprises iambic pentameter such as, “Something there is that doesn’t love a
  • Blank verse: Blank verse is written with regular metrical but unrhymed lines, almost always in iambic pentameter. “Mending Wall” is written in blank verse.
  • Repetition: There is a repetition of the phrase, “Good fences make good neighbours.” It has created a musical quality in the poem.
  • Refrain: The lines repeated at the same distance in the poem are called refrain. The phrase, “Good fences make good neighbours” is repeated with the same words. It has become a refrain as it is repeated twice in the poem.

 Quotes to be Used

These lines can be used when discussing the importance of healthy relationships. These could also be used in motivational speeches when talking about the protection of boundaries.

“And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”