The theme of the poem is about two neighbours who disagree over the need of a wall to separate their properties. Not only does the wall act as a divider in separating the properties, but also acts as a barrier to friendship, communication. From the narrator’s view, barriers lead to alienation and emotional isolation and loneliness. The narrator cannot help but notice that the natural world seems to dislike the existence of a wall as much as he does and therefore, mysterious gaps appear from nowhere and boulders fall for no reason. The poem portrays the lack of friendship between two neighbours, they now each other but they are not friends. There exists a communication gap between them; they meet each other only on appointed days to fix the wall separating their properties.
Thus, the poem is a sad reflection on today’s society, where man-made barriers exist between men, groups, nations based on discrimination of race, caste, creed, gender and religion.
“Mending Wall” is a poem of 46 lines without a neat stanza structure. It is a dramatic narrative poem composed in blank verse and also comprises of balanced strict Iambic pentameter lines.
The language of the poem is conversational in tone.
Robert Frost has used a number of poetical devices to enhance the perception and feelings that he wants to communicate to the readers through an inanimate object, a wall.
Metaphor: Examples of metaphors in the poem are listed below;
1. The ‘wall’ in the poem is a metaphor for two kinds of barriers- physical and mental.
*Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
*And set the wall between us once again
*We keep the wall between as we go.
2. In another metaphor, stone blocks have been compared to ‘loaves’ and ‘balls.’
*And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance.
Example of simile from the poem,-
“…I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed..”
In the above lines, Frost describes his neighbour who was holding a stone firmly in his hand and looked like some primitive man armed to fight.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;”
In the above lines, an unseen force in nature has been personified. It is this force that breaks down the boundaries that man has created.
It is a figure of speech that has a similar word order and structure in their syntax.
“To each the boulders that have fallen to each.”
Here, ‘to each’ is parallelism as it emphasizes that fact that the narrator and his neighbour are on the opposite sides of the wall.
An example of Pun in the poem is “And to whom I was like to offence.” Here, the word ‘offence’ is a pun as it sounds like ‘fence.’
Frost’s poems are famous for juxtaposing the opposites for life. The poem has two famous lines which oppose each other.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”
“Good fences make good neighbours.”
“Mending Wall” has an allusion to elves, the tiny supernatural creatures drawn from folklore and myth.
The examples of alliteration in the poem are the following:
*We wear our fingers with handling them
*Before I built a wall
*What I was walling in or walling out.
Frost’s poems are known for his distinctive use of symbols. These symbols enhance the significance and deeper meaning of the poem.
*The fence symbolizes national, racial, religious, political and economic conflicts and discrimination which separate man from man and hinders the ways of understanding and cultivating relationships.
*The dispute between the two neighbours symbolizes the clash between tradition and modernity. The young generation wants to demolish the old tradition and replace it with modernity while the old wants to cling on to the existing tradition and beliefs.
In “Mending Wall”, Frost has taken an ordinary incident of constructing or mending a wall between the his and his neighbour’s garden and has turned it into a meditation on the division between human beings.
Therefore, we can justify the statement that Robert Frost uses symbols and distinctive poetical devices in his poems to enhance the theme of the poem more effectively.