'Mending Wall' By Robert Frost - Poem Summary, Appreciation & Analysis Of Literary Devices


'Mending Wall' summary looks at how the literary masterpiece uses the mending of wall between two farms as a metaphor for healthy boundaries in society

Written By Chitra Jain | Mumbai | Updated On:
mending wall summary

"Mending Wall" Poem by-

                                   -Robert Frost...

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 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.

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 neighbors.’

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.

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.

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 neighbors.’

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Summary & Appreciation of Mending Wall

“Mending Wall” was written by the great American poet Robert Frost. It is a stimulating and interesting poem about human boundaries or limitations and their benefits in the society. It was first published in the year 1914. The poem revolves around the story of two neighbours who come across each other in spring every year to mend the stone wall that separates their farms. The poem demonstrates how good fences create good neighbours, and how people can preserve their long-lasting relations with neighbours by founding such walls. It has gained massive popularity due to its publication across the globe because of its simple yet thoughtful subject.

“Mending Wall” as a Representative of Tradition:

Mending wall poem focuses on the activity of mending a wall that the speaker and his neighbour make every year during springs. The speaker of the poem senses that there is no need for any boundary, as neither of them has anything treasurable to keep in lawns. They have just trees in their farm. According to the poet, mending the wall is an unreasonable activity. He then also sees the falling of stones from the wall and says that even nature is not in favour of this fence between the farms. But, since his neighbour is attached to his traditions, he tries to justify building it. He emphasizes on boundaries and distances that are important for relationships to work. However, the thing that captivates the reader is the message he delivers- which is that most relationships can work well with boundaries.

Major Themes in “Mending Wall”:

The major themes of the poem are exploration, curiosity and the need for the gap that the poet found in the poem. The poem also presents a clash between the two neighbours. However, they meet every year in the spring to mend the wall, but the speaker is not able to understand the necessity of the wall between their farms. Out of curiosity, the poet questions the neighbour about establishing the wall. Still, he does not get any acceptable answer. Whenever his neighbour stresses on the need for separation, he is implying that good fences keep the relations affectionate and warm.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Mending Wall”

Literary devices are used in the poem to convey the richness and clarity of the texts of the poem. The writers and poets of the masterpiece use these literary devices to make their poem or prose texts pleasing and expressive. Robert Frost has also used some literary devices to converse the prominence of the fence. The analysis of literary devices of the poem has been given below.

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as /e/ sound in “To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, No one has seen”.

  • Enjambment: Enjambment refers to the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet or stanza such as,

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“And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

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  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. Frost has used visual imagery in this poem such as, “And some are loaves and some so nearly balls”, “He is all pine and I am apple orchard” and “Not of woods only and the shade of trees.”
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as /n/ and /t/ sounds “And set the wall between us once again”.
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Similarly, “fence” symbolizes ‘gap’ that one should maintain to establish long-lasting relationships and to maintain privacy. “Nature” symbolizes the reunion of the two as the speaker meets his neighbour every year in spring to fix the fence.
  • Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. There is only one metaphor used in the poem. It is used in seventeenth line where it is stated as, “And some are loaves and some so nearly balls.” He compares the stone blocks to loaves and balls.

The literary analysis shows that Frost has masterfully used these literary devices to talk over the intense and profound subject of limits and boundaries between human beings and relationships to make them more intense.

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First Published:
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