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Mending Wall - Robert Frost

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Kaitlyn Colgan

on 27 March 2014

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Transcript of Mending Wall - Robert Frost


People put up walls, literally and figuratively, to protect themselves. As humans, we yearn for connections and companionship, but we are afraid of putting ourselves out there because we are afraid of getting our feelings hurt.
-Robert Frost

Presentation by Bridgette Nikisher
and Kaitlyn Colgan
"He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.

He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'"

Repetition is used to enhance the importance of phrases
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it"

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down."

"What I was walling in or walling out"
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down."
"Why do they make good neighbors?"
The fence separates the neighbors, but it also brings them together
They cannot work on it alone, so they work together on the thing that separates them

"I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go."

"He is all pine and I am apple orchard"
"Good fences make good neighbors."
The speaker and his neighbor are separated by the wall all year, but brought together by it once a year when they go to repair it: giving us the title Mending Wall, because the wall mends their relationship by reuniting them once a year

The title also alludes to the wall being a lack of communication, and the mending being the reunion of two people who lost communication.

Mending Wall also sounds like the wall is doing the mending, leading us to think that we can put power in an object to do our work for us instead of doing it ourselves.
"Something is there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast."
As hard as I try to build up a wall, something in me keeps me from being totally successful
"The work of the hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs"

Other people are a different story. I have cleaned up their messes, after they have destroyed me. They only do what is best for them.
"No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there"
We don’t even notice when the wall is falling apart
We only see the damage after it is done.
"To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:"
We take back only what is ours but everything is a mess. It would take magic to fix everything back to the way it was
"'Stay put where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,"
We blame the wall for falling apart and vow not to let it happen again. It is hard work but we pretend it's not.
"One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:"
We pretend it's easy, and it almost seems like we don't even need the wall
"He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'."
We are very different, and I will never be like him. I tell him we will never get along. He only says, "it's better we keep our distance".
"Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?' Isn't it
Where there are cows
But here there are no cows
I wonder if I could ever change his mind. Don't we use fences for animals? We aren't animals.
"Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out
And to whom I was like to give offense."
Before I make this decision I want to know, am I shutting myself in or shutting other people out?
Am I only hurting myself?
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it to come down. I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself"
I don't know if I want a wall up and I want to explain that to him, but I don't want to sound desperate and ridiculous.
"I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed."
I watch him harshly build up the wall.
"He moves in darkness as it seems to me
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying
And he like having though of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors'."
He is hiding from me
I don't know who he is
He is stuck in his old way and will never break the wall
He tells me again, "I think we should keep our distance".
"And set the wall between us once again. We keep the wall between us as we go."
"Good fences
make good neighbors."
"I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again."
I let those around me know I the wall has come down, and they agree to help me rebuild it, to keep the distance between us.
Full transcript