Robert Frost - Mending Wall

Topics: Shanghai Metro, The Wall, Universal quantification Pages: 32 (10153 words) Published: September 22, 2013
Mending Wall
~by 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.'


Mending Wall Summary

The speaker immediately tells us that something is amiss in the countryside. Something in the wide blue yonder does not like walls. He and his neighbor must get together every spring to walk the whole length of the stone wall that separates their properties, and to fix places where the wall has crumbled. Then, our speaker begins to question the need for walls. He grows apples and his neighbor grows pine trees. His neighbor says that "good fences make good neighbors." The speaker becomes a bit mischievous in the spring weather, and wonders if he can try to make his neighbor reconsider the wall. His neighbor looks like a menacing caveman as he puts a rock into the wall, and repeats, "Good fences makes good neighbors."

Section I (lines 1-4) Summary

"Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line." Line 1

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,"

Our speaker cuts to the chase in this first line. Something is amiss in the world of walls. "Something" is a wishy-washy word, and just about anything under the sun can qualify as "something." Even a person. By using "something" instead of "someone" our speaker suggests that humans are not the only wall-destroying culprits around; there are things out there as well. We begin to channel Sherlock Holmes as we strap on our detective hats. Folks, we are smack dab in the middle of a thrilling, blood-curdling mystery – about walls. Lines 2-3

"That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,"

So, this "something" wields magical powers, apparently. Whoever or whatever it is, it aces Physics, because it knows that water particles swell when frozen, and shrink when warm. Our speaker hypothesizes that the "something" asks nature to cool down the earth below the wall and warm up the boulders in the wall, thus wrecking havoc upon the wall itself. The boulders start to crumble from all...
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