Home Burial

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‘Humankind erects and maintains real and symbolic barriers to protect and defend opposing stances, beliefs and territories. The resulting lack of communication reinforces those barriers, often to detrimental effects’. Discuss in relation to at least two of Robert Frost’s poems.

Much of Frost’s poetry includes the discussion of, and indeed reasoning behind varying types of barriers within diverse situations - many of which he himself experienced throughout his life. Mending Wall, “one of Frosts most anthologised poems”, is a primary example of both physical and emotional barriers being used in his attempts to explore the diversity in the relationships between both humankind and nature, and human beings themselves; the question “Are walls and fences instrumental in the retention and renewal of human relationships?”, being the driving force behind this piece of work. Although the narrator describes his neighbour as “an old stone age savage…he moves in darkness as it seems to me”, it must be noted that it is in fact the narrator who initiates the mending of the wall, perplexing the reader as it appears that tradition and indeed the wall itself is of no importance to him. Harold Bloom states that “Frost identifies a deep human resistance to formal principles, more generally, reluctance to erect obstacles to freedom, and a desire to see barriers break down.” The neighbour who lives by the saying “good fences make good neighbours”, “resembles an obstructionist, a Luddite, who can only recite his father's bromide to justify his yearly task of rebuilding the wall.” The wording of the first lines of Mending Wall, also introduce something somewhat ‘supernatural’ to its meaning. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”, does not define what it actually is which destroys the wall. Frost of course knows that it is the elements which are responsible, but as critic Frank Lentricchia comments “His fun lies in not naming it, and in not naming the scientific truth...
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