Mending Wall by Robert Frost

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“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost is a poem in which the characteristics of vocabulary, rhythm and other aspects of poetic technique combine in a fashion that articulates, in detail, the experience and the opposing convictions that the poem describes and discusses. The ordinariness of the rural activity is presented in specific description, and as so often is found in Frost’s poems, the unprepossessing undertaking has much larger implications. Yet his consideration of these does not disturb the qualities of accessible language and technique, which give the poem its unique flavor and persuasiveness. The poem works on two levels of realism and metaphor, with a balance as poised as the act of mending the all itself.

(themes) Perhaps one of the reasons that Frost remains one the best known and best loved American poets is that his themes are universal and attractive. They offer the reader affirmative resolutions for the conflicts dramatized in his life and his poetry. Readers, whether young or old, waging their own struggles against the constant threat of chaos in their life, find comfort and encouragement in many of Frost’s lines which are so cherished that they have become familiar quotations: “Good fences make good neighbors”, “Miles to go before I sleep.”

(theme) “Mending Wall” is about boundaries. Frost, in a personal evaluation of this poem stated, “Nationality is something I couldn’t live without. I played exactly fair in it. Twice I say ‘Good fences’, twice I say ‘Something there is—‘. While giving a reading of his poetry in Santa Fe, Frost called the “Mending Wall” ‘too New Englandish’ and that mending wall is an occupation he used to follow. The neighbor in the poem is not a Yankee as represented, but is actually A French-Canadian who was very particular every spring about setting up the wall.

(theme/subject) Frost often stated that he felt ‘spoken to’ by nature. He called these incidents ‘nature favors’ and these favors served as inceptors of his poems. Many people refer to him as a nature poet, however there is always a person, a character in his nature poetry.

(subject/setting) Frost always claimed he wasn’t a nature poet and that there is almost always a person in the poem and that the poem is about the person, not about nature, which is usually beautifully described. Nature se...

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...ngs). Something refers to a big, unknown unspeakable force – God? (expand on this). Or it could refer to the fact that in New England the frost heaves the ground in the winter, much as ice cubes swell up. Anything made of stone or brick suffers because of the upward pressure. Also: In actuality, stone walls were never built between properties. As farmers would plow their fields the stone were unearthed and carried to the property line and dumped. I’m sure Frost was aware of these facts but didn’t really care about how the physical wall came about, for he uses this wall only in the metaphoric sense to describe the way we wall ourselves in, while not knowing what we might be walling out. In Mending Wall Frost has recognized the existence of a force that sends a powerful emotion, a groundswell under the barriers that human beings create around themselves in an attempt to break these barriers down.

Mending Wall has a man who both builds and repairs the wall, as well as works to topple the wall. He makes boundaries while at the same time trying to break them. That’s part of what makes this poem universally acceptable and enjoyable. Frost has described all of mankind.
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