Mending Wall Analysis | Robert Frost’s Detailed Mending Wall Analysis, Style and Form

Mending Wall Analysis: Inspired by his wife, Elinor Miriam White, the poem ‘Mending Wall’ was written by Robert Frost to explore human relationships’ nature. According to the poet, there are two types of people, one who wants walls and others who don’t.

The poet was born on 26th March 1874 in San Francisco and was interested in reading and writing poetry in Lawrence’s high school days. His first ever published poem was ‘My Butterfly,’ which came out on 8th November 1894 in ‘The Independent.’ Robert Frost was greatly influenced by contemporary British poets like Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. 

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Robert Frost became an eminent poet by the 1920s as his work was immensely recognized, and he earned great fame and honour with each new book. Robert Frost is an author of universal themes and is more than just a regional poet, although his work is mainly based on the life and landscape of New England.

Though writing poetry in traditional verse forms and metrics, he remained completely aloof from the poetic movements. Robert Frost used simple language in his poems with the application of irony and ambiguity. Mending Wall Analysis Literary Devices, Figurative language

About Mending Wall Analysis

David Nutt published Robert Frost’s ‘Mending Wall’ in 1914, and in terms of modern literature, the poem is considered one of the most organized and diversified poems. Here, the speaker is a farmer in New England who walks along with his neighbour in spring to repair the stone wall that falls between their farms.

As they start mending the wall, the narrator engages in a conversation with his neighbour and asks why the wall is even needed. The poet says that something in nature doesn’t want a wall, to which his neighbour answers, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

The poem analyses the fundamental nature and characteristics of human relationships. The poem has got several layers. It requires the reader’s analysis, philosophies, and search for an inevitable conclusion that he cannot find. The reader understands the meaning of life in a new way as he is on a thrilling and rewarding quest.

The poet here speaks about nature and says that not everything that exists in nature needs a wall. According to him, the human-made walls are destructed by natural events or even hunters searching for rabbits for their hungry dogs. Thus, with the onset of spring, the narrator, along with his neighbour, starts to mend the shared wall between their properties.

Though the narrator comes together with his neighbour to repair the wall, he considers this an act of stupidity. According to him, both of them don’t need a wall. He asks why there should be a wall when his neighbour has only pine trees, and he has apples, and these cannot intrude into the narrator’s property. On the other hand, his neighbour is a stone-headed savage who believes in his father’s age-old philosophy: “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Mending Wall Analysis Style and Form

The poem’s baseline meter in the blank verse, but some of the lines apace with blank verse features like lock-step iambs, five abreast. The poet has made perfect implementation of five stressed syllables in each line of the poem but has extended the feet’ variation so that the verse’s natural speech-like quality can continue to be sustained.

The poem doesn’t have any stanza breaks or rhyming patterns and exhibits continuity. Many of the end-words like wall, hill, balls, wall, and well sun, thing, stone, mean, line, and again or game, and he twice shares consonance.

Alongside, the poem has internal rhyming words which have been kept slanted and subtle by Frost. All words in the poem are short and conversational yet have been written in a straightforward language. The poem ‘Mending Wall’ brings out perfect feel and sound by pulsating skilfully.

Mending Wall Analysis by Robert Frost

Detailed Mending Wall Analysis

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,

Lines 1 to 9

In lines 1 to 9, the narrator says that something mysterious does not want walls and permanently destroys the walls, making a gap for two people to pass through it quickly. It either gets damaged by some hunter, who pulls down the walls of the walls searching for rabbits to please their barking dogs or by other means.

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 aside. It comes to little more:

There where it is, we do not need the wall:

Lines 9 to 22

In these lines, from 9 to 22, the speaker says that the making of these gaps in the walls are never seen or heard but mysteriously exist during spring, especially when someone tries to mend the fence. They are realities, so the narrator asks his neighbour to go beyond the hill and find out, after all, who creates these gaps. One day, when both of them were walking along the wall, they get to see stones of the wall scattered on the ground. They see that some rocks are shaped like bread loaves, while a few are round in shape. Due to their mysterious figures, they find it difficult to fix the wall. Though all the process of tackling the stones makes their fingers too rough and exhausted, it is like an outdoor fun game for them, where the wall works as a net, and both the narrator and his neighbour are opponents.

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 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

Line 22 to 36

From lines 22 to 36, the narrator tries to make his neighbour understand that they probably don’t need a wall as his neighbour only has pine trees and an apple tree which cannot trespass into the speaker’s property. There is no chance of offending as they don’t also have any cows at their homes. While to this, the neighbour who is a stone-headed person says what he believes in his father’s age-old saying that, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

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.’

Throughout the poem, the narrator wants to make his neighbour understand, and the kind of imagination he makes to convince his neighbour about the existence of the wall are appealing, for example, in the lines where the narrator tells his neighbour that there is something like a non-human entity as elves that come and break the walls. Elves are tiny supernatural, mythological beings that are seen in folk tales. The narrator quickly changes his opinion when he logically explains nature’s power, which works against those walls and barriers.

Despite the narrator’s several opinions, his neighbour firmly holds his ground and is probably too arrogant. He still believes in his father’s ideology of ‘good fences make good neighbours.’

Final Comments on Mending Wall Analysis

‘Mending Wall’ is an all-time favourite poem by Robert Frost. It gives a broader and wiser perspective on boundaries and barriers. It also suggests that good fences are essential to maintain friendly relations with the neighbours.

This is a possible way by which we can have a peaceful and stable understanding with our neighbours. It also, in a way, implies that how important it is to maintain proper boundaries and barriers between two countries to establish a peaceful environment and relation between them. In reality, living in a civilized society, walls and boundaries help maintain privacy and also act as an obstacle for people like seemingly unsociable. We must maintain distance from our neighbours and respect their privacy as well as our privacy. Thus, fences and walls are essential.

What is the main theme of Mending Wall?

A widely accepted theme of “Mending Wall” concerns the self-imposed barriers that prevent human interaction. In the poem, the speaker’s neighbor keeps pointlessly rebuilding a wall. More than benefitting anyone, the fence is harmful to their land. But the neighbor is relentless in its maintenance.

What happens in the Mending Wall?

The poem is set in rural New England, where Frost lived at the time—and takes its impetus from the rhythms and rituals of life there. The poem describes how the speaker and a neighbor meet to rebuild a stone wall between their properties—a ritual repeated every spring.

What does the Mending Wall symbolize?

The wall symbolizes good boundaries, especially in the repeated phrase, “good fences making good neighbors.” However, the wall also symbolizes community. Repairing the wall brings the two together in a yearly ritual that helps them remain good neighbors by bonding.

What is the major metaphor in Mending Wall?

The central metaphor in this poem is the wall itself. It comes to represent the divisions between people, things that keep them apart.

What is ironic about the Mending Wall?

Perhaps the greatest irony in the poem “Mending Wall” is that the speaker continues to help rebuild the wall even as he realizes he disagrees with its presence. As the poem progresses, the speaker notes how all sorts of natural forces, like the ground and animals, conspire to take down the wall each winter.

Why do the two neighbors meet in Mending Wall?

“Mending” is an adjective here, not a verb. That is, erecting the wall mends something between the neighbors. So one of the reasons the neighbors continue to meet and mend the wall is that doing so “mends” and maintains their relationship.