***** ******** October 20, 2011 Professor ****** Poem Analysis Mending Wall I chose this poem because the wall reminds me of my personal struggles with other people. When people annoy or bother me I instantly put up an imaginary wall between me and that person. They ask me to stop ignoring them and I just shrug their request, just like in this poem. I decide that the wall between us is better up than down because I was afraid of getting mad and saying things that I would regret later on.
Mending Wall, by Robert Frost portrays the routines of two neighbors who are constantly mending the fence, or wall, that separates their properties. If a stone is missing from the fence, you can bet that the two men are out there putting it back together piece by piece. In Frost uses imagery right from the beginning that lets us know a little bit of the setting with “frozen-ground” (Line 2). He also uses assonance in lines 2-3: “Sends…Swell / Spills, Sun”. In lines 17-19, Frost uses metaphor, personification, and hyperbole. A metaphor compares the stone blocks to loaves and balls.
A metaphor-hyperbole compares the method of placing the rocks to a spell. Frost uses alliteration: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out” (32-33). Frost’s description of every detail in this poem is quite interesting, very pleasant to read, and extremely imaginable. He leaves the reader to decide for himself what deductions he is to make from the reading. On one hand, Frost makes literal implications about what the two men are doing. For instance, they are physically putting the stones back, one by one.
Their dedication, commitment, and constant drive shines through when reading how persistence these men seem about keeping the wall intact. Quite the contrary however, is the inferences that something even deeper is going on. There is a sharing experience taking place here. Indeed, by laboring so hard, each man is experiencing physical repercussions, but they are also using this time as a “meet and greet” period. We can gather from the beginning of the poem that the wall has many forces that keep’s it in shambles. For instance, Frost writes; “… hat sends the frozen ground swell under it and spills the upper boulders in the sun… “, and “I have come after them (hunters) and made repair where they have left not one stone on a stone… ” The man and his neighbor don’t seem to have time for anything else, for it sounds as if they are constantly making repairs. Is there a reason for this? It is important to note that not only are these men completing a manly task, but they are also “building” some type of relationship. If this were not an issue, the neighbor would not repeat; “Good fences make good neighbors. As the man tells his story, we find that even though the two men may be conversing and interacting, there is some distance between them at all times. The man says; “… on a day we meet to walk the line and set the wall between us once again. ” It seems to show that even though there is a need for friendship in each of us, it is equally as necessary for us to have our own space. As the poem continues we see that what is taking place is almost like a game. In fact, he says; “Oh, just another kind of outdoor game. And the narrator continues by saying, “We keep the wall between us as we go”. This is almost like there is this game of leapfrog taking place! “He is all pine and I am apple orchard,” This seems to indicate that each of us is different. Having different likes, dislikes, etc. One of the men farms “apples”, while the other just has “pines”. Nonetheless, each is special and both of them contain separate, yet endearing qualities. Now let’s reflect on Frost’s use of the “stone” itself. What could he have meant by this poem? “Stay where you are until our backs are turned”.
He is speaking to the stones. In other words he is telling them that if they are going to fall, please wait until he is not looking. This seems to be an odd touch to this poem. It almost appears that the man is so bored at times that he would talk about or to anything. Maybe the neighbor is not as much of a talker as one might have imagined. Maybe the man only has himself and these inanimate objects to converse with. After all, the only quote by the neighbor in this poem is; “Good fences make good neighbors. ” In another light however, there is the idea of separation, or segregation.
I have briefly touched on the idea that the two men are consistently kept apart by this wall. In addition though, the author contrasts his “wall” of separation with the idea of segregation in our world. We are left with the impression that if two people have differences, no matter the extent, they are not considered equals by society. The wall unites our narrator and his neighbor, but separates them as well. As we hear the neighbor says to the narrator twice “Good fences make good neighbors” (27). The central theme of “Mending Wall” is whether it is wise to erect walls and other types of barriers.
I believe the poem suggests that wall stands as an obstacle to progress and social agreement. Tearing the wall down, as does the mysterious “something” of lines 1 and 36, and you open the way for communication, friendship, and unity. But also open yourself up to being vulnerable to the outside world and the unknown. Yet the neighbor insists that walls “make good neighbors”. Then again, poem seems to indicate that walls may be necessary after all—at least in some cases— “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know… whom I was like to give offense” (33-35).
This sentence indicates that the speaker would approve of a wall with an obvious purpose. All buildings require walls to stay upright, to keep the unwanted out, and the good stuff in. And if you live near a prison or a nuclear plant, you would probably agree that good walls indeed make good neighbors. Ironically, in the interest of comity, the speaker of the poem each spring helps to reconstruct a wall he believes is unnecessary, as a force of habit. He doesn’t want a wall that causes disagreement between him and his neighbor. Basically, he sees the unnecessary wall as necessary.
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