A Commentary on “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
As the poem opens, we see a very formal phrase “something there is”, and rather formal diction. However, the language is natural in the sense that it does not rhyme. Also, we have a sense that there is a tumbling forth of ideas about the things that want to destroy a wall. We see this from the phrases, “that sends…and spills…and makes gaps.” Some invisible force exists that doesn’t love a wall. So the speaker is setting the tone and implying that part of himself does not love walls. The rhythm of this poem is very regular, even if there is not rhyme. There are ten beats and five stresses per line, but it is not iambic. This serves to create a fairly natural feeling of movement, which highlights the mysterious force that steadily and naturally tries to destroy a wall.
The speaker then moves into a more personal tone, talking about his personal experience dealing with damage caused by hunters. The personal pronoun “I” is used, which appeals directly to the audience and is more intimate. Also, the speaker is distinguishing the slow, mysterious force that “doesn’t love a wall” from more direct and obvious short-term causes of damage that need repair.
By going from an image of dogs chasing rabbits and an obvious need for repair to another line mentioning the mysterious forces of decay, once again the focus is on a force that might not love a wall, suggesting that walls are somehow against the force of nature.
Frost then introduces his neighbour, once again setting a very informal tone with the personal pronoun “I” . In these lines, the meeting to repair the wall is presented almost as a ritual, since they are deliberately planning to “walk the line” and “set the wall” between them. Also, we feel the distanced relationship between the neighbours, because their main purpose is to “set the wall between us once again.” Obviously, the most important task is to maintain the boundaries between them....
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