Dismantling the Wall

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The storyline in most high school English classes is the analyzing or overanalyzing of poetry. Often this train of thought winds into a one-track argument between teacher and students. The pupils object about readers manufacturing meaning where none exists; the instructor insists that the poem merits deep examination. Granted, some poets write simple poems for the primary sake of entertainment (i.e. Jack Prelutsky). However, some poets manage to compound a dense significance into a concise poem, and these poems warrant the analysis of their deep meaning. Robert Frost is one poet capable of creating these masterpieces of poetry, such as tackling a subject as grand as the Apocalypse and commenting on it in terms of fire and ice (“Fire and Ice”). Frost succeeds in the task again in his poem “Mending Wall,” which literally tells the story of two men who, following every winter, repair the stone wall that separates their fields. In this poem, Frost implements a specific physical structure along with poetic devices including, dialogue and metaphors to derive a deeper social commentary from a common occurrence- building a wall. The physical construction of the poem “Mending Wall” reflects the literal wall and the metaphorical barrier being erected between the two men. Instead of dividing his poem into stanzas, Frost “presents an unbroken sequence of lines” (Andrews 1). First, the poem is left justified over its entirety and lacks any stanza breaks. These two characteristics cause the poem to appear on the page as resembling a jagged, serrated wall. The effect can be truly revealed by tilting the poem sideways, placing the flat (left justified) side on the bottom and the jagged edge on top. The poem physically appears as a stone wall... ... middle of paper ... ...a common border. Through double meanings and an effective story and title, Frost is able to entertain with strong poetry while conveying his subliminal commentary. To summarize, Frost’s “Mending Wall” is a work of respectable value not only for its poetic ingredients but also for its multi-faceted secondary meanings. Beneath the first layer of context lays a deep social commentary that is apparent through engaged analysis. Whether in support or dissent of the excessive examination of poetry, “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost possesses the poetic devices of traditional works and a deeper social commentary that is expected from Robert Frost. The meeting of rational thinking and primitive instinct occurs in society regularly. Human beings share this duality within themselves, and this poem depicts the struggle between the two points of view, the two sides of the wall.

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