November Poem-Robert Frost-Mending Wall


Something a bit more accessible. Even though it is "set" in spring, there is something terribly autumnal about it. And perhaps even worse is "Good fences make good neighbors." Boundaries are good, but they aren't the only good, nor the greatest good. Perhaps good gates also make good neighbors.

Mending Wall
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."

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 10, 2003 8:08 AM.

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