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“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost is a poem in which the characteristics of vocabulary, rhythm and other aspects of poetic technique combine in a fashion that articulates, in detail, the experience and the opposing convictions that the poem describes and discusses. The ordinariness of the rural activity is presented in specific description, and as so often is found in Frost’s poems, the unprepossessing undertaking has much larger implications. Yet his consideration of these does not disturb the qualities of accessible language and technique, which give the poem its unique flavor and persuasiveness. The poem works on two levels of realism and metaphor, with a balance as poised as the act of mending the all itself.
(themes) Perhaps one of the reasons that Frost remains one the best known and best loved American poets is that his themes are universal and attractive. They offer the reader affirmative resolutions for the conflicts dramatized in his life and his poetry. Readers, whether young or old, waging their own struggles against the constant threat of chaos in their life, find comfort and encouragement in many of Frost’s lines which are so cherished that they have become familiar quotations: “Good fences make good neighbors”, “Miles to go before I sleep.”
(theme) “Mending Wall” is about boundaries. Frost, in a personal evaluation of this poem stated, “Nationality is something I couldn’t live without. I played exactly fair in it. Twice I say ‘Good fences’, twice I say ‘Something there is—‘. While giving a reading of his poetry in Santa Fe, Frost called the “Mending Wall” ‘too New Englandish’ and that mending wall is an occupation he used to follow. The neighbor in the poem is not a Yankee as represented, but is actually A French-Canadian who was very particular every spring about setting up the wall.
(theme/subject) Frost often stated that he felt ‘spoken to’ by nature. He called these incidents ‘nature favors’ and these favors served as inceptors of his poems. Many people refer to him as a nature poet, however there is always a person, a character in his nature poetry.
(subject/setting) Frost always claimed he wasn’t a nature poet and that there is almost always a person in the poem and that the poem is about the person, not about nature, which is usually beautifully described. Nature seemed to be Frost’s furniture.
(language/tone) Frost makes much of tone and depends upon the sound of the voice-tone to communicate the emphasis of the poem, such as the ‘oh’ and the hyphen in ‘old-stone savage’. If you’ve ever heard a reading by Frost of Mending Wall you would notice that he stresses these lines, as well as “I’d rather he said it for himself”. The tone of Mending Wall is an important factor in understanding the poem. Within these simple, yet complex lines Frost has incorporated the tone of remininces, reflection, sarcasm and irony.
(lang./tone) The living part of the poem is the intonation for it is only here for those who have heard it before. It is the most volatile and at the same time important part of any poem.
(lang/tone) Much of the appeal of Mending Wall can be attributed to Frost’s use of language as it is spoken with a vocabulary which is natural and which includes the texture of the tongues from which it comes.
(lang/tone) Those who read it could readily sense the personalities and emotions that exist within the dialogue.
(lang/style) Frost’s style in Mending Wall is plain, direct, conversational. It is simple on the surface but there’s an obscurity and a depth that the reader can’t quite get inside of.
(lang/style) Frost’s poetry is deceptively simple but there is a deep mysterious underside which is very interesting. His craftsmanship, understanding of meter and form, his use of imagery, metaphor, psychology, religious connection, and understanding of man/woman and man/universe are what set his works apart.
(tone/language) Words in themselves do not convey meaning. Take for example two people who are speaking on opposite sides of a wall, whose voices can be heard but whose words cannot be distinquished. Even though the words do not carry, the sound of them does and the listener can catch the meaning of the conversation. This is because every meaning has a particular sound-posture, or to think of it in another way,
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Mending Wall, Robert Frost, Fence, Wall, Frost, Poetry, North of Boston
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