Mending Wall Study Guide
Introduction to Mending Wall
“Mending Wall” is a poem by Robert Frost. It was originally published in Frost’s 1914 poetry collection, North of Boston, and it has since become one of Frost’s most frequently anthologized works. Frost’s native New England vernacular adds character and authenticity to the poem, and the philosophical musings of the speaker form a contrast to his humorous and almost conversational tone, rendered in a flexible blank verse.
The primary focus of “Mending Wall” is human connection. The titular wall is a paradoxical symbol, as it brings the narrator and his neighbor together but also separates them. The speaker seems to resent the wall for the arbitrary distance it creates between him and his neighbor, who insists that “good fences make good neighbors.” However, despite his claims to the contrary, the speaker also seems to value the wall, as it is on his initiative that he and his neighbor get together to rebuild it. “Mending Wall” ultimately acknowledges the necessity of boundaries in maintaining civility.
A Brief Biography of Robert Frost
Robert Frost (1874–1963) was an American poet who has achieved unprecedented name recognition in the United States. His best-known works include “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” both of which have become synonymous with the genre of nature poetry. Frost, though, was much more than just a nature poet. “Home Burial,” for example, deals with overwhelming grief after the death of a child. “Fire and Ice,” while somewhat tongue-in-cheek, considers the apocalyptic end of the world. And some of his poems, such as “The Oven Bird,” are a complex treatment of a difficult rhyme scheme, proving that Frost could match anyone in form. Furthermore, Frost helped form the conception of Americans as tough, self-sufficient individuals. This New England native, often called the “Icon of Yankee Values,” remains an essential American poet.