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Robert Frost “Mending Walls”

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            Mending walls is a classical poem, which was written in 1875 by Robert Frost. It is a poem that can be differently interpreted both at a glance and figuratively. it talks of a great wall and its characteristics which have to be rebuilt every spring as a habit. The poem has no stanza breaks, or rhyming patterns. However many of the words end with assonance such as balls, hills, wall, well as well as stone sun and mean.

            A great wall separates the narrator from his neighbour who meets every spring to repair the wall. It is relating to a countryside set up whereby the neighbours have to divide their farms by creating a wall between them.  One neighbour insists on the truth of the proverb that good walls make good neighbours. The other neighbour however does not see the huge importance in going back every season to rebuild the wall. The argument that good fences create good neighbours illustrate the importance of the fence in keeping all the nuisance from neighbours away by reducing the conflicts that emanate from frequent interaction. The poem has two personas and one neighbour does not see the relevance of the wall; they do not understand what it is they are walling in or walling out and who they are likely to offend.  This neighbour cites forces of nature such as snow and decay which will eventually destroy the wall making them to rebuild it every spring.

            The narrator perceives his neighbour as one who is still informed by traditions as he still holds on to old beliefs and practices. He nevertheless seems to appreciate the wall as he turns up every season to help repair the damages made by hunters. He is the one who contacts the neighbour to remind him of the wall. It is ironical and humorous to hear him say that he does not see the need for a wall. According to him (author) the wall would have been still important if the two had cows that needed to be separated.

            The wall building can be viewed figuratively. In both literal and figurative contexts, the poem marks the foundations of a society’s thinking and perceptions.  Boundaries are very important as the help maintain people’s privacy.  The rules and laws that govern societies are figurative walls. Going to courts is the justice method of trying to mend the walls. Figuratively the author questions the need for rules and the forces that lead to breaking of society’s tolerance on each other. people like to socialise and at the same time maintain their privacy. For the wall it is the forces of nature and the hunters which ensure that the wall is not in a stable condition. Just like the frost and the hunters, there are factors in our lives that ensure our walls are never intact. Everybody wants freedom, from habit and from laws however, the poet makes us realise that it is not backward to build walls.  These are the society’s constructs which reduce or increase in intensity as the society changes. The two neighbours must have to accommodate each other.

            There is great irony in the task which brings these men together, a wall keeping them apart. Just like the good and the bad people meet in court to settle something good. The two men repair the wall each one on his side. They repair the wall between them and leave, and to each side the boulders fall (14-15) they see this as an outdoor game knowing that in the next spring they will be back to the same job.

Frosts poems are best taken literally. It makes more sense to assess the habitual things that people do. It is about barriers that people put around them mentally and physically and how people help one to maintain the barriers. Figuratively it can be the societal barriers regarding acceptance of some people, habits, new initiatives, which could be beneficial to us or least of all harmless.

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