Mending Wall

‘Mending Wall’ appears to be about mundane farm work, yet like many of Frost’s poems, the meaning runs much deeper than this. Written in blank verse, unrhymed iambic pentameter, the poem reads like a story and has a casual, relaxed feel to it. The poem describes two farmers building up a wall between their two farms which has begun to fall down. While one farmer insists on building the wall back up as “Good fences make good neighbours”, the other farmer questions the very need for a wall at all, “Why do they make good neighbours?”. However, I feel this poem is not just discussing boundary walls on a farm but is hinting at the need for us to remove international barriers and boarders and embrace multiculturalism, embrace our differences. Although this poem was written in 1913, I feel its message is incredibly relevant in today’s world, where we are constantly torn between wanting to break down barriers yet feeling obliged to build them back up again. The relevance of many of Frost’s poems in todays’ world is a distinctive feature of his poetry. The building of the wall is the deeply symbolic of the human struggle to break away from tradition and embrace a more united world. The physical struggle in building the wall highlights humanity’s difficulty in changing the status quo, “We wear our fingers rough with handling them”. I find this metaphor to be quite thought provoking and causes me to reflect on the difficulty I have in my own life in breaking out of habit.

Throughout ‘Mending Wall’, I feel Frost is subtly comparing the differences between two types of people in this world. Although Frost uses humour while making his comparisons, “He is all pine and I am apple orchard”, I am forced to think about my own mind set and which farmer I myself am more like. Within this comparison, Frost is uncompromising in portraying his own opinion, making it clear to me that he is a man of an open mind set who is willing to break tradition. This is evident through his subtle critiquing of the other farmer’s attitudes, “He will not go behind his father’s saying”. The disapproval in Frost’s tone reveals to me some of his personality and further engages me in the poem. In my opinion, in this poem Frost is also warning us of the danger of a closed mind set and cutting ourselves off from others, “He moves in darkness”. There is a sense of pity for the other man in Frost’s tone, indicating the poet’s opinion that failure to embrace change is somewhat destructive to oneself. In this way, I believe Frost was ahead of his time with regard to creating a more open world. There is an element of mystery or magic present on ‘Mending Wall’, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”, “We have to use a spell to make them balance”. This creates a sense of intrigue and further engages the reader. I also believe that there is a deeper meaning to this point that Frost is making. It appears to me that he is suggesting that it is the strength and force of tradition that is turning us away from change and forcing us to keep building walls. This interesting idea leads me to think about the enormous will and strength of the person that is required to go against tradition and make a change. This poem is thought provoking, yet humorous, an unusual combination of styles. However, this combination of styles is very effective in this unusual, yet modern approach to poetry, and for this I commend Frost.


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