The Mending Wall by Robert Frost

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The Mending Wall by Robert Frost Robert Frost was not just a writer. Frost was, more importantly, an American writer whose works epitomized the Modernist literary movement, and in turn represented the mood and minds of a nation. Frost remains emblematic of a specific time in our country. Through the words of the poet, readers of his day could see a real-time reflection of themselves - visible in Frost's verses were the hopes and apprehensions that marked the first half of the twentieth- century. However, in his ability to express this unlikely mixture of cynicism and sentiment, Frost did more than capture the attention of his contemporaries he captured "the times" for all times. A modern reader of Frost is a reader of American history; not in days and dates, but in feeling and thought. While any of the works from Frost's prolific collection could be used to validate this thought, it is upon "...a road less travelled" in the lines of "The Mending Wall" that we will venture to explore and understand the power and importance of one man's talents. Robert Frost was a lecturer, poet, and teacher. When he was nineteen and working in a mill in Lawrence, Massachussetts, the Independent accepted and published "My Butterfly, an Elegy". This poem began Frost's career as one of America's great poets. Rugged New England farm life was the inspiration for many of his poems. Like much of Frost's poetry, "The Mending Wall" appears on the surface to be simple and plain. However, a closer study will reveal subtleties and depth. In the opening lines the speaker is true to this prosaic tone, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall/That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it/And spills the upper boulders in the ... ... middle of paper ... ... acts without thought. The tradition is instinctive for him, something not to be questioned, but rather done without question. It is not his place or his right to question - "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.' " The neighbor is doing nothing more than what his father instilled in him, and more than likely it was instilled in his father by his grandfather, and so on. In a time when the country is re-examining and mending many of its "walls" Robert Frost's call to question the walls we build is sound and timely advice. Frost shows us that we can become as restricted by unquestioned tradition as we can by the walls we build and blindly rebuild - he seems to speak to us through the lines of "The Mending Wall" saying, "good neighbors don't need fences.
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