Robert Frost was an American poet who wrote the popular poem “The Mending Wall.” This poem is about two farmers who live next to each other and have to repair their shared wall every year. The poem talks about the importance of community and working together.
Robert Frost found himself in the middle of this intellectual battle, as he often did, and decided to write a poem about it. The result was “Mending Wall” which appeared in his second collection, North of Boston.
Taking place in New England, “Mending Wall” is about two farmers who meet yearly to repair the wall that separates their properties. As they work, the speaker questions the purpose of the wall and why it needs to be maintained. He posits that perhaps it exists only to keep out the wild animals that might otherwise wander onto one’s land. But his friend insists that the wall is necessary because “good fences make good neighbors.” In other words, the wall ensures that each man has his own space and can live in peace.
The speaker eventually relents, accepting that the wall is important to his friend even if he doesn’t fully understand why. But the poem ends on a note of ambiguity, with the speaker admitting that there is “something there that doesn’t love a wall.” This “something” could be interpreted as nature itself, which continually breaks down man-made structures.
Or it could be something more personal, such as the human desire for connection and understanding. Either way, the speaker recognizes that the wall between him and his neighbor is not just physical but also metaphorical. It is a barrier that keeps them from truly knowing one another.
It was the Modern Period, and one of its most famous figures was Robert Frost. Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in California. He grew interested in poetry after moving to Massachusetts at the age of eleven. His first poem, “My Butterfly,” was published in 1894. In 1895, Frost married his muse Elinor Miriam White. They emigrated to England later that year, where Robert became friends with Ezra Pound, a poet who boosted his reputation.
Robert and Elinor Frost had six children, but only four survived infancy. In 1912, Robert Frost returned to America with his family.
Robert Frost’s most popular poems are “Mending Wall”, “The Road Not Taken”, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. “Mending Wall” is a narrative poem about two farmers who meet once a year to repair the stone wall that separates their property. The poem reflects on the need for human connection and understanding.
“The Road Not Taken” is a reflective poem about a traveler who must choose between two paths. The poem speaks to the idea of regret and second-guessing life choices. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a descriptive poem about a man stopping to admire the beauty of nature. The poem speaks to the idea of taking time to appreciate the simple things in life.
Frost’s poetry career culminated in him winning four Pulitzer Prizes. Frost ran a farm in New England which resulted in his writing being greatly inspired by the scenic land surrounding him. Many of his poems included natural elements and were relatively uncomplicated; however, despite the simplicity of language, Frost always managed to incorporate hidden complexities into his work.
In “The Mending Wall”, Robert Frost uses the wall to symbolize the barriers between people. The title of this poem, “The Mending Wall”, is significant because it immediately introduces the reader to the main theme of the poem: physical and metaphorical walls that we build between each other. The act of mending something suggests that there is already something broken, which could be interpreted to mean that relationships are already strained when someone decides to put up a wall.
Frost begins the poem by describing how every spring, he and his neighbor walk along their property line to fix any damage that has been done to the wall over the winter. The neighbor insists on doing this even though there is no livestock that would escape, and Frost doesn’t understand why. He likens their yearly ritual to an ancient ceremony, one that has been passed down from generation to generation.
In the second stanza, Frost’s speaker says that he thinks his neighbor is “wary” of him, and this could be because he is not originally from the area. The neighbor grew up there, and his family has been there for generations. The speaker is an outsider, which could make the neighbor feel like he needs to protect what is rightfully theirs.
The third stanza is where Robert Frost really starts to explore the theme of barriers between people. The speaker says that he likes to think there is a reason for the wall, even though he knows there isn’t. He says that walls are built to keep people out, but also to keep things in. This could be interpreted to mean that we build walls not only to protect ourselves from others, but also to protect our own emotions and feelings. We don’t want to let anyone in who might hurt us, so we build these barriers.
The fourth stanza is where Robert Frost brings up the idea of age. The speaker says that his father used to tell him that good fences make good neighbors. This suggests that when there is a clear boundary between two people, it makes it easier for them to get along. But the speaker also says that he doesn’t agree with his father, and that he thinks walls just keep people apart.
In the final stanza, Robert Frost brings up the idea of nature vs. nurture. He says that the only thing that is stopping the natural growth of the trees and plants is the wall. This could be interpreted to mean that we humans are the only ones who put up these barriers between each other. We are the only ones who need them. Nature doesn’t have these issues, because everything can just grow and coexist together. But we humans need walls to separate us from each other.
Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall” is a poem about physical and metaphorical barriers between people.