The ordinarily mundane takes a thought arousing spin in one of Robert Frost’s earlier works, “Mending Wall”. This poem is a striking take on an otherwise commonplace ritual between two farmers in the spring. Because the poem is in blank verse, it carries a casual folksy feel throughout, contradictory to its deeper message and paradoxical tone. “Good fences make good neighbors. ” This line is a paradox when compared with the previous statement, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. ” Fences equate to walls, and what are walls but provisional boundaries?
The boundary in this story is a fence made of stone that separates the properties of two neighboring farmers. This wall is the focal point of the poem, the subject that brings to attention the divide between individuals. The speaker one day finds the wall broken from what appears to be the after effects of winter. He calls his neighbor to meet with him to fix the wall and does so annually. The wall is ironic in that although it separates the two individuals, it brings them together once a year.
The two live united, but separated. The wall is a metaphor for the separation between the speaker and the neighbor and perhaps even a greater analogy for the division of people as a society. These divisions could include a division of thought, which we see is different for the two characters. The speaker believes that the wall is unnecessary when he asks his neighbor, “Why do they make good fences? Isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows. ” His neighbor replies with the same old adage he stated before.
It is apparent that the neighbor and speaker are of differing opinions and backgrounds. We might even assume that the neighbor and speaker are of different ages, meaning there may be a generational gap between the two that creates this difference of opinion. “Something there is, that doesn’t love a wall That sends the frozen ground swell underneath it. ” A reversal of syntax in the first line paints the narrative in a decidedly ambiguous manor and leaves it up to the reader to interpret what “something” could be.
We find out later that that something likely is nature, or the natural forces of winter. The wall is portrayed as an unnatural thing, something that is not a part of nature, something that does not fit in with the natural environment. This notion is supported when he later states, “To each the boulders have fallen to each. And some are loaves and some are so nearly balls we have to use a spell to make them balance”. Frost suggests that there is a natural force tearing down the walls because the walls are not natural.
The narrator stresses that the rocks that make up the wall fit together so unnaturally and so imperfectly that they need a “spell” to help them balance. Spells are unnatural and are magical, so it is as if the wall is held up by spells. We can garner from the text that this particular wall has many forces out to destroy it(eg. natural tolls, animals, hunters, etc. ) and its destruction is an annual occurrence. Even its reoccurring destruction implies its unnaturalness and that nature does not agree with it.
Perhaps nature itself is intent on destroying the wall, as it is an unnatural extension of man and all unnatural extensions of man(eg. skyscrapers, buildings, cities) are meant to fall down to nature at some point. The paradox again is that the wall is made of stone, or natural elements, and this wall is destroyed each year. Perhaps the destruction is a reflection of the speaker’s desire to break down the physical and imaginary boundary between the two neighbors that the wall represents.