Mending Wall is one of the most popular poems of Robert Frost. The poem was included in the North of Boston, the second volume of poetry that was published in the year 1914. This particular volume was catered with dramatic monologue. As such, Mending Wall is a dramatic lyric of a young man, expressing his views and attitude towards life. The other character is that of the speaker’s neighbor, an old farmer. The old farmer had a reduced participation in the poem, but his views are important for the development of the poem. Indeed the old man doesn’t even talk to us directly. His views are conveyed to us by the speaker.
This monologue may seem to be descriptive in the very first instant. However, the readers will soon be puzzled while extrapolating the theme of the poem, cutting though the vague apprehension of arguments. Mending Wall is particularly known for its thought content and thus readers should have a clear comprehension of what the poem actually convey.
Theme of the Mending Wall:
The poem has a profound paradox.
In this narrative monologue the speaker challenges the liberal tradition- repairing or mending a wall when actually there is no need of any wall.
The speaker who actually is the poet and his neighbor come together to repair the stone wall every spring time. The speaker who is young, dynamic, vivacious has to confront his neighbor who is old, traditional with deep rooted belief. The farmer doesn’t even care to justify his belief and quotes to his father’s saying “Good fences make good neighbors.” On contrary, the speaker holds an opinion which is diametrically opposite.
“There where it is we do not need the wall
He is all pine and I am apple orchard..”
Even the speaker inquires the mindset of his neighbor who adhere’s to his father’s sayings.
“He moves in darkness as it seems to me.
Not of the woods only and the shade of trees…”
These expressive statements doesn’t really make the speaker ‘s view absolute and makes Frost draw a conclusion in his favor. However, nature seems to be empathetic and denies the formation of barriers, walls and boundaries. The very starting lines provides sufficient hint,
“…Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
That wants it down. I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself….”
Frost has kept the opening simple yet the thought content is well adjusted. The poem presents a clash of ideas, but it is represented by playful seriousness. In Mending Wall, the poet actually doesn’t try to offer an answer. Frost leads us to make a choice- It left for the readers to decide which is right, the speaker or his neighbor. Should be move beyond the senses of practicality and break the barriers of discrimination and geography which isolates us, or should be ponder over the traditional human psychology and maintain a wall for mutual good (if any).
The poet is thoroughly able to convey his message and portrayed Natures’s persistent effort to tear the wall down.
Critical Analysis of Mending Wall
The poem, being rich in thought content has led to varied interpretation, and at different levels. The wall symbolizes all man-made barriers (divisions between nation, social divisions like caste and classes, economic, racial and religious barriers).
A deeper analysis of the poem unfurl two human sentiments. The young speaker who is dynamic, whimsical, is determined with the spirit of revolt, which challenges the old fashion tradition. Where as the old man signifies the spirit of restraint, which insists tradition should be upheld.
The poem is also noteworthy from an artistic level. Though the thought content is tangible and concrete, this hasn’t let a loose in the style and the drawing of the character-sketch. The poem is a sparking gem! It vividly portrays Frost’s philosophy of brotherhood, tolerance and his viewpoint of the assertion “Good fences make good neighbors.”
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