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Mending Wall by Robert Frost

The Mending Wall by Robert Frost tells the story of two men who ritualistically come to their shared property line in order to repair and rebuild the wall between them. The speaker refers to them jointly, and united on several occasions such as “We meet,” “We keep,” “We have to use,” and “We wear our fingers rough.” The speaker is describing a civil, collaborative effort to build and keep up a barrier between them. However, the tone begins to shift as the speaker starts to ask questions, logically describing the lack of necessity to separate his own apple trees from his neighbor’s pines trees. However, the speaker’s neighbor has a phrase passed down from his father declaring, “Good fences make good neighbors.” This quote will be repeated throughout the poem as the only reasoning to rebuild the wall, year after year, and divide the two men. The diction and syntax used to describe the neighbor takes a darker turn once he assumes the argument in support of the wall. The speaker describes his neighbor as moving in the darkness holding stones in each hand “like an old-stone savage armed.” Despite the neighbor continuously and consistently stating the importance of his fathers saying, another factor plays a key role in the poem, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” This major idea in the poem toys with the theory that despite year after year of repairing the wall dividing the two men, there was something out there determined to break it down. The mysterious power, the speaker believes, is responsible for swelling the ground beneath it; spilling the boulder and making gaps that coincidentally are wide enough that “even two can pass abreast.” Perhaps this line gives a hint at the importance of crossing this dividing wall together, in unity.

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