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Sunday, October 03, 2010

"MENDING WALL" BY ROBERT FROST

Robert Frost was Californian by birth but lived for a time here in New
England and many of his poems speak about life here. The following one
is from his collection "North of Boston" published in 1914, and when I
first read it I could picture my ancestors in New Hampshire and Maine
mending the stone walls on their farms on the first warm day of Spring:


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 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 outdoor 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.'


 

7 comments:

Will Haskell said...

Hi Bill,

Nice poem. I really enjoy Robert Frost poems. Several years ago my Dad gave me a copy of "A Boy's Will" by Robert Frost published in 1915.

Will Haskell said...

Hi Bill,

Nice poem. I really enjoy Frost's poems. Several years ago my Dad gave me a copy of "A Boy's Will" by Robert Frost published in 1915.

Heather Rojo said...

Come up to visit me sometime, because right down the road is the Robert Frost Farm in Derry. There is a stonewall next to the pasture, and each time I drive by that wall I think of this poem! We used to walk around the farm and recite Frost's poems in all the appropriate spots "Mending Walls", "The Pasture Spring", "West Running Brook", etc.

Miriam said...

Frost is one of my favorite poets and this is one of my favorite poems of his. It says so much about relationships. Thanks for sharing.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

New England is not the only place where "good fences make good neighbors!" (heehee) I, too, admire and enjoy Frost. He gets right down to the nitty-gritty.

One of my high school classmates wrote a parody of Frost concerning a situation between us. It was a hoot. Too bad I didn't keep it.

And I often think of "the road less traveled-by" in connection with my own path in life.

T.K. said...

Aw, Bill, you're just determined to make me like poetry, aren't ya!

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Frost, forever in our hearts!