Boundary

Boundary

Mending Wall

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;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of 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. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour 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.
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:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not 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 neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
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 offence.
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. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
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 likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Related: History of Stone Walls

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
Image | This entry was posted in Country Living, Inspirational Quotes, My Photos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Boundary

  1. Another lovely posting!

  2. Beautiful, I like the image and how it goes with the poem. I also posted another one by Robert Frost but interpreted by a Buddhist. I like how you titled it ‘Boundary’. What do you think he meant by the wall?

    • This is a beautiful poem and I haven’t been in an English literature class in at least 30 years, but what I can analyse from these two excerpts is this:

      “We keep the wall between us as we go.
      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:
      “Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
      We wear our fingers rough with handling them.”

      I think he’s speaking of our vulnerability as human beings. As humans we are so vulnerable to one another. He also speaks of “To each the boulders that have fallen to each. “Boulders” are our life story, so unique and so individual. “We wear our fingers rough with handling them”. Human beings are difficult to deal with, that we need some sort of protection(?)

      “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 offence.
      Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
      That wants it down.”

      Love is not always ready when you are (universal love that is), our inner self is just too vulnerable, yet it’s willing, when he says: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
      That wants it down.” So he titled it “The Mending Wall”, because he describes it as an ongoing process. Does that make any sense?

      • Frost uses many symbols.

        My poem was “The Road Not Taken”. On that one I came to the conclusion that “undergrowth” is a symbol used by Frost. “Undergrowth” is something human beings are inexorably attracted to, perhaps because of its abundance (undergrowth is very abundant, right?) and its varied foliage in the woods, people are most prone to take that path. The:
        “Then took the other, as just as fair,
        And having perhaps the better claim,
        Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
        Though as for that the passing there
        Had worn them really about the same”.

        Seems to me that could be interpreted as some people deliberately choose difficult paths in life because there is a notion that to “struggle” is a good thing (the entanglement in Buddhism). So the majority of people will ignore their natural inclinations because the “easy” paths (or how society views them) are forbidden in some families. Nevertheless, all they can be considered are “natural inclinations”; and why do we ignore these is an issue the poem deals with, and why Frost says it’s “The Road Not Taken”.

  3. I love Frost thank you! That’s a great rock wall, if you had a trash bag in your pocket you could lay or kneel down and try some dramatic perspectives in early morning or evening light…or just tell me to hush (LOL).

  4. Robbie says:

    I think to some degree they do, but to some degree they don’t..it is a catch 22:-)

  5. That’s a great photo, Eliza.

  6. mk says:

    Interesting to see so many colors in snow. Who knew? Thanks Eliza.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you! Yes, snow (basically ice crystals) reflects light. This shot was taken early morning right as the sun was rising and everything was bathed in gold and orange. (Contrasting with the blue shadows, which are predominant in winter. Violet also shows up a lot as well, especially at the end of the day.) Blue shadows and sparkling snow are my favorite. Our last storm on Thursday finished with large flakes that glitter in the sun like diamonds. Because it has stayed below freezing, they were still there today. I love looking at them sparkle as I move about. Ice and snow crystals are the consolation prize for living in these frigid conditions!

  7. ladyfi says:

    One of my favourite poems! And a great shot too.

  8. This is by far the best analysis on line:
    http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/frost/section3.rhtml
    There are so many interpretations, and poetry is just like music; it can be interpreted in multiple ways.

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    Thanks for all your thoughtful input, Maria. It is interesting to hear the many different ways poems touch people. Some lament that poetry is ‘dead’, but not it my experience, it stills draws people like moths to a flame.

  10. Kina says:

    It said no information for this location. 😔

  11. cindy knoke says:

    Big Frost admirer and love your photo~

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