The Hidden Meaning of Robert Frost's Mending Wall

The Hidden Meaning of Robert Frost's Mending Wall

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The Hidden Meaning of Robert Frost's Mending Wall 


"Mending Wall" is a poem written by the poet Robert Frost. The poem describes two neighbors who repair a fence between their estates. It is, however, obvious that this situation is a metaphor for the relationship between two people. The wall is the manifestation of the emotional barricade that separates them. In this situation the "I" voice wants to tear down this barricade while his "neighbor" wants to keep it.

"Neighbor" is here a metaphor for two people who are emotionally close to each other. "Good fences make good neighbors", is a line the author emphasizes by using it two times. The "neighbor" says the line while the main character does not agree with it. He can not see that there is something between them they need to be "walling in or walling out".

The "I"-voice sees himself as a good spirited person. He is obviously worried because a person he cares about is shutting him out. He thinks that his "neighbor" is of a dark disposition. "He is all pine and I am apple orchard", the poem says. Pine is a dark tree while apple trees have white flowers.

In "Mending Wall" the main character finds gaps in the fence. I believe the emotions between the characters make these gaps. He informs the neighbor and together they repair the fence with boulders. When they meet they argue or have communication problems. This is why they manage to repair the barricade between them. However, I would say that their emotions, especially the main character’s, try to get the boulders off balance so the wall can be leveled with the ground. The balancing of boulders is a symbol of their meetings; "We have to use a spell to make them balance". "We wear our fingers rough", the author writes about the handling of the boulders. One may interpret this to signify that the meetings between these two "neighbors" are very hard on them.

This is a long one-stanza narrative poem. All the lines have five stresses and are written in iambic pentameter or blank verse, which was also Shakespeare's chosen meter in his plays.

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There is one  exception:  the two lines where the one man says;  "good fences make good neighbors". These lines therefore stand out, containing  an important message, unreflected the first time, ironic the second.

"Mending wall" is a symbolic poem. If you do not look out, the poem might seem as a poem about repairing fences. If you take the time to read it twice, the theme of the poem is easily understood and very moving.
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