Discussion Topic

Analysis and interpretation of literary devices, themes, and specific lines in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"

Summary:

In Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," literary devices such as imagery and metaphor highlight the theme of boundaries. The repeated line "Good fences make good neighbors" suggests a barrier to communication and understanding. The wall represents both physical and emotional separation, questioning whether these divisions are necessary or beneficial. Frost uses a conversational tone to explore human relationships and the paradox of separation fostering connection.

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What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

We keep the wall between us as we go.

The central metaphor in this poem is the wall itself. It comes to represent the divisions between people, things that keep them apart. The speaker notes that he actually doesn't see a need for the division; his neighbor has pine trees, and he himself has apple trees, so it isn't like the wall is accomplishing a real function as it would if they both had cows, for instance. When he asks his neighbor why they have to stand divided, his neighbor answers vaguely: "Good fences make good neighbours." The speaker can't see the practicality in this statement. Therefore, the barriers we construct to divide us from other people are sometimes erected based on things we've heard before but have no practical application.

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

The pines and apple trees are metaphors for their differences. Pine trees often symbolize longevity; he uses them as a metaphor here to explain how his neighbor carries the traditions of his father: "He will not go behind his father's saying." Because his father believed in this division, he will stand behind the belief. Apple trees often symbolize an appreciation of beauty and peace. The speaker longs to live in peace with his neighbor and therefore cannot see the necessity for the wall; they meet here every year with a common goal and have no ill will. The two men have different views of their world.

Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
The cows become metaphors for things that could divide them, differences that would create a division and would necessitate the construction of barriers. But the speaker can find no difference that he holds against his neighbor that makes a division necessary, and he can't imagine that he's done anything in return that would cause his neighbor to feel this way.
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What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The wall itself is an extended metaphor. Frost wants to convey the idea that, as human beings, we often construct artificial boundaries between one another. What's more, we tend not to think about why we even do this. This unreflective attitude is expressed by the neighbor's homespun-cliché: "Good fences make good neighbors." But the narrator slyly suggests that good neighbors shouldn't need to make fences in the first place.

The wall doesn't simply separate the neighbor from the narrator; it separates him from himself. He has become estranged from his fundamental humanity by his insistence on the need to keep things and other people away from his property. Instead of looking upon the natural world as something to be cherished, venerated, and preserved, he sees it as an object to be controlled, divided, and exploited.

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What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

A metaphor is defined as a comparison that does not use explicit comparison words such as "like" or "as." So if you said "my love is a red, red rose" you would be using a metaphor, but the statement "my love is like a red, red rose" would be a simile because it uses the word "like," an explicit term of comparison. Critics describe metaphor as consisting of a tenor, the main subject of the comparison, and a vehicle, the thing being compared to the tenor. Thus in comparing one's beloved to a rose (as in Burns' poem), the rose would be the vehicle and the beloved the tenor. In general, metaphor tries to explain the unfamiliar or hard-to-describe in terms of something simpler or easier to describe.

Frost uses several metaphors in "Mending Wall." The phrase "some are loaves and some so nearly balls" compares rocks to loaves of bread and balls implicitly without using words such as like and as. Similarly, the description of wall building as an "outdoor game" is also a metaphor comparing the wall repair to a form of sport or entertainment.

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What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

A metaphor is a comparison that does notuse the words "like" or "as."  For example, if I say that a little girl "is a doll," I don't mean that she is actually a doll; rather, I am comparingher beauty and cuteness to the beauty and cuteness of a doll.

In "Mending Wall," Robert Frost uses several metaphors:

a. "To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls"

The poet is describing stones that have fallen from a stone wall.  The poet describes the shapes of the stones by saying that some are shaped like loaves of bread and some are almost the shape of a ball.


b. "Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side"

The poet says that the activity of collecting the fallen stones is like a "kind of outdoor game."


The central  metaphor in the poem is expressed by the narrator's neighbor, who says, "Good fences make good neighbors."  The neighbor seems to be saying that fences are like a line that maintains good relationships between neighbors by showing each neighbor where he belongs.  The narrator questions whether this is true:

Why do they make good neighbors?...

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.

c. 

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What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The speaker would prefer not to have the wall since they have to mend it every year and neither neighbor has livestock.

The speaker does not like having the wall.  He finds it inconvenient and kind of pointless, since neither of the neighbors have livestock that might cross from one person’s land to the other.  It also needs repair each year, which is annoying.

Every spring, the speaker and his neighbor meet for a day to repair the wall.  Its stones need to be replaced.

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. 

The speaker’s point is that there is no real reason to have the wall there at all, let alone to keep it in good repair.  The neighbor claims that good fences make good neighbors.  He clearly prefers some separation between them.  The speaker doesn’t see the point.  He has apple trees, and his neighbor has pine trees.  The trees are not going to run away or interfere with the other’s yard like livestock would do.

The speaker is skeptical of the idea that the fence is helping them be good neighbors.  He does not see it as any more than an inconvenience.

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?  

Apparently, this is an old adage of the neighbor’s passed down from his father.  So the speaker agrees, and every year they mend the wall.  It is the best way to keep the peace between them, since that is what the neighbor wants.

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What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

One of the great things about poetry is that it is intended to evoke a response from the reader, but each reader need not have an identical response. Thus, when discussing what something in a poem may, or may not, symbolize, one should frame said discussion in terms of possibilities.

With respect to Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” one possibility is that the wall symbolizes a shared obligation. In the first two thirds of the poem, this is what the wall seems to symbolize to the speaker of the poem. The speaker does not see a practical purpose for the wall, nor, at first, does the speaker appreciate the neighbor’s assertion that good fences make good neighbors. The speaker feels obligated to mend the wall each year because the neighbor wishes to mend it.

Another possibility is that the wall symbolizes a needed separation between the neighbors. This appears to be what it symbolizes to the neighbor. Like the speaker, the neighbor does not seem to believe that the wall has a practical use, such as keeping out livestock, but the neighbor does apparently see a need for the division of land to be marked, and for that marker to be mended each year. This fits with the maxim about good fences making good neighbors in that the wall provides a boundary and prevents disputes or misunderstandings about where one neighbor’s land ends and the other’s begins, thus reducing the chance of acrimony between the neighbors.

A third possibility is that the wall symbolizes the relationship between the neighbors themselves. From what the speaker tells us, the two do not seem to have much in common, and it appears that mending the wall may be the only activity they do together. In coming together to mend the wall, they also, in a sense, make sure their relationship as neighbors remains intact. Like the wall, that relationship has few practical consequences in their daily lives, but their yearly shared labor on the wall gives them a chance to interact and work together. In this way, the wall is making them good neighbors, not by keeping out livestock or demarcating their separate properties, but by bringing them together in a common goal, thereby maintaining their relationship as neighbors.

A reader of the poem may identify with one of these possibilities more than another, depending on that reader’s life experiences and world view, or a reader may identify with an interpretation of the reader’s own. Or, a reader may see all three possibilities, as well as perhaps other possibilities, working together to create layers of meaning. In such, each reader is having a response to the poem, and in some way understanding a deeper, symbolic meaning of the wall.

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What is the interpretation of "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

This poem presents two view of a wall between two orchards.  I lived in New England, and these walls are somtimes low walls that were originally intended to keep cows in their pasture (doesn't take much of a wall to keep them in place), but which continued in place long after they were useful.  The wall between the orchards in this poem are useless since we're separating orchards and the trees won't devour each other.  But this doesn't mean that walls are useless.  They key lines for me have always been these:


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.

Sometimes, as in this poem, walls serve no purpose and are only maintained out of habit and superstition.  Sometime, however, there ARE things to protect, whether property, or information, or things about ourselves.    Just think before you build a wall ... do I need this?  Does it serve a purpose?  Will it help relationships?  If the answer is yes, then by all means build it.

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What is the interpretation of "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

This, as other Frost poems, is delightful in its ambiguity, and there are certainly several interpretations to its meaning. I will offer mine.

The poem is concerned with the obvious divide between two neighbours. Their farms - both arable - are separated by a wall which is annually attacked by both nature and man, and each year the two neighbors embark on rebuilding this divide.

The purpose of mending the wall seems to have different meanings for the two men. For the narrator, it is an opportunity to socialise with his neigbor, to embark on a task together. For the neighbor, it is a necessary act to maintain the gulf between them. The neighbour retains his 'savage' view that -

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

Whereas the narrator sees the wall itself as unnecessary-

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines.

However, for the time that the two men are 'mending wall' they are unified despite their differences.

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What are some of meanings of the Wall in "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

Well done for identifying the deliberate ambiguity of the central image of the wall. Of course, this ambiguity is created in part thanks to the other word of the title, "mending," which is used as both a verb and an adjective in the poem, so we are never too sure how this central image is to be read. However, it is suggested that the act of mending the wall is one that is used to help maintain the relationship between the speaker and his neighbour. Of course, the wall refers to two kinds of barriers that we erect in our lives, both emotional and physical. There is of course the literal wall that the neighbour of the speaker feels is so important to maintaining good relations, and then there is the emotional barrier that is erected between them, which the wall stands as a symbol for. The attitude of the neighbour towards the wall is repeated, parrot-style, again and again in the poem, perhaps reflecting his complete uncritical faith in the value of a wall:

"Good fences make good neighbours."

However, the speaker finds this answer unsatisfying, as the act of mending the wall makes him think philosophically about some of the deeper implications of what he is doing:

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...

Whilst for the neighbour a good barrier ensures a healthy relationship, for the speaker, there is the troubling thought of what offence might be caused by building that wall, given the inevitable way that you exclude and include others by the act of building a wall. However, the fact that the poem ends with the litany of the neighbour actually suggests that it is he who has the more enlightened and sensible view: given human nature, clear boundaries perhaps may be very important.

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What figures of speech are used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

Frost uses anaphora in this poem. In this literary device, the first word or words of a line are repeated in consecutive lines. Frost does this twice, in both cases repeating the word "and":

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
This describes personified nature's "work" of damaging the wall.
Later, Frost's speaker states,
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
The anaphora in the first two lines is paralleled in the second two lines: whereas the first two focus on nature's damage, the second two focus on the men's preparation to repair the damage. The poem uses metaphor, a comparison not using the words like or as, when it compares the rocks to loaves and balls. This is also a use of imagery, description using any of the five sense of sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. We can visualize some of the rocks looking long and humped, like loaves of bread, and some entirely rounded. Imagery occurs in the phrase "two can pass abreast" to describe how wide the gaps can be in the wall after winter has done its damage. In another use of imagery, we can hear the sound of the hunters' dogs when they are "yelping." Frost employs dialogue when the men speak to the rocks as if, the speaker says, casting a spell:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
He uses it much more famously when the neighbor says:
‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
In both cases, the dialogue breaking through into the poem lends the scene an immediacy, as if we are overhearing what is going on rather than just having it reported to us.
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What figures of speech are used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

Other answers to this question have addressed assonance, alliteration, metaphor, personification, apostrophe, and hyperbole, so to round out the answer and examine more subtle or less frequently noticed figures of speech in "Mending Wall," let us consider the following techniques:

When a poet inverts the syntax of a line it is called inversion, or anastrophe; it is often used to control meter, or to provide emphasis. Frost employs it in the opening line, "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall," instead of "there is something that doesn't love a wall.

Frost also employs the use of first person perspective as the speaker relates the narrative in real time, or present tense as the reader and the speaker experience the action of the poem together.

Frost borrows a technique from rhetoric when he arranges two rhetorical questions back-to-back in the lines "Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it where there are cows?"

Simile is used when the speaker imagines his neighbor "like an old-stone savage armed" building a stone wall.

Finally, in his diction, Frost uses compound nouns such as "frozen ground-swell" and "old-stone-savage." Compound nouns are nouns made up of two or more nouns, sometimes incorporating adjectives.

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What figures of speech are used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The first figure of speech is personification, which means talking of inanimate things as though they are people:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it.

This is personification because it presents natural events such as hard freezes in the New England winter as somehow having intent, emotion, and purpose. 

Another figure of speech we encounter is alliteration or repetition of consonant sounds, as in the repetition of "w" sounds in the line "was walling in or walling."

We also encounter direct address in the line "Stay where you are until our backs are turned!" In this line, the characters in the poem appear to be speaking to the stones rather than to each other or to the reader. 

The poem uses the device of hyperbole or exaggeration in stating that the men nearly have to use a spell to balance the stones. Finally, in listing the many different types of causes of damage to the wall, Frost uses the device of amplification.

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What figures of speech are used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

There are multiple figures of speech (or literary/poetic devices) used in Robert Frost's poem "Mending Walls."

Alliteration- Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry. For example, in the tongue-twister "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," the repetitive sound of the "p" exemplifies alliteration. In the initial line of the poem, alliteration is found.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall.

In this line, the "t," or "th," sound in "there" and "that" is repeated.

Assonance- Assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound within a line of poetry. In the children's game "I Spy," the vowel sound "i" is repeated. Assonance can be found in the third line of the poem.

And spills the upper boulders in the sun.

In this line, the vowel sound "u" in "upper" and "sun" is repeated.

Metaphor- A metaphor is the comparison of two or more things which are typically different. An example of a metaphor is "My life is a roller coaster." Here, the speaker's life is compared to a roller coaster (meaning his or her life is full of ups and downs.) An example of a metaphor can be found in line twenty-four of the poem.

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

Here, the speaker is comparing his or her neighbor to a pine tree and himself, or herself, to an apple orchard.

Personification- Personification is the giving of human characteristics or traits to non-human/ non-living things. For example, "the sun smiles" is an example of personification given the sun cannot smile, but humans can. Personification can be found in lines twenty-seven and forty-six.

"Good fences make good neighbors."

Here, fences are given the ability to be a good neighbor. Given that only humans can make good neighbors, this shows the personification of the fence. 

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What figures of speech are used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The wall is a literal, physical wall. But it also is a metaphor for the emotional wall between the speaker and his neighbor. The speaker claims that something doesn't love the wall. The spring thaw and swelling ground makes the wall break down. The speaker implies that there is something in him (mischief) that also wants to break down the wall between himself and his neighbor. But the speaker fails to see how the wall actually brings him and his neighbor together every spring. So, the wall is something that separates and unifies. It physically separates and connects the two pieces of land. Metaphorically, it emotionally separates the two neighbors. But it can also be interpreted as emotionally joining the two neighbors: at least once a year to do the mending. The "mending" itself is also literal and metaphoric. They mend the wall but with this annual meeting they also have a sort of reunion and have the opportunity to mend their relationship. The speaker is convinced of his interpretation that the wall is a physical and emotional barrier. He thinks his neighbor is stubborn about the wall being sustained. The speaker doesn't consider that the wall serves a positive purpose as well: it gives him and the neighbor a reason to meet every year to mend the wall and their relationship. But the speaker dwells on his neighbor's supposed stubbornness and uses a simile to compare him to a type of caveman. "I see him there / Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top / In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed." (A simile is a comparison of two things, usually using the words "like" or "as.") The speaker compares his neighbor to a savage. He believes his neighbor only values the wall as a means to keep the two men separate.

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What are the characters doing in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

A couple of neighbors out in the country are going through the annual ritual of mending the wall that divides their land. Every spring, the two men walk the full length of the wall together and make any repairs that need to be made. In some parts of the wall, there are holes where hunters and their dogs have knocked over stones in pursuit of rabbits.

Even so, one of the neighbors, the speaker of the poem, thinks the whole business is a complete waste of time. It's not as if there are any cows to be contained; there are just apple trees and pines.

But the speaker's neighbor is insistent that the wall must be maintained every spring. He subscribes wholeheartedly to his father's saying that good fences make good neighbors. The speaker tries valiantly to make him question the veracity of such an old saw, but his neighbor won't budge. It seems that he's lived his life by this principle and that he's too old, too set in his ways, to change now. He's stuck in the past, and so long as that's the case, he'll continue to insist that the speaker joins him in this annual wall-mending ritual.

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What is the symbolism in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The main symbol in the poem is the wall itself. The wall in question is a low stone structure that marks the dividing line between the speaker's farm and his neighbor's farm. Every winter, the wall gets damaged—stones fall away or are displaced by hunters—and the two men meet to repair the wall when warmer weather returns.
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. They talk, they joke, and they complete a project together. For all that the speaker complains about the wall being unnecessary, he seems to enjoy this annual ritual of repairing it. Ironically, he is the one who initiates it in the spring:
I let my neighbor know.
Another symbol Frost employs in this poem is darkness. As the speaker notes of his neighbor,
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
Here, darkness symbolizes ignorance. The speaker sees his neighbor as backward and tradition bound for insisting on completing this yearly ritual even though neither of them has livestock that could wander over the property line. Seeing his neighbor carrying a rock grasped from the top in either hand, the speaker even likens him to an "old-stone savage armed."
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What is the symbolism in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The primary symbol in "Mending Wall" is the wall itself. The speaker and his neighbor meet to mend and reconstruct this wall, as they do each year, and they engage in a conversation about the real purpose of the wall. His neighbor believes that the wall, and therefore physical divisions, are necessary to maintain peace. By clearly marking the divisions of their properties, the neighbor believes that they will be able to avoid future conflicts.

The speaker doesn't agree, believing instead that the wall is pointless. The wall divides the speaker's apple orchard from his neighbor's pine trees; the apple trees are not going to cross the property lines, anyway. Yet his neighbor simply repeats an old adage in response to this observation, reminding the speaker that "good fences make good neighbors."

This demonstrates that his need for division is based in tradition and without much thought about the need for those barriers. The wall is symbolic of all the ways humans divide themselves, questioning whether those divisions are successful in maintaining a sense of peace or if the walls themselves represent a sense of cynicism about coexisting with others peacefully.

It is interesting that the speaker grows apple trees. Apples are often symbolic of knowledge, which symbolizes the speaker's sense of wisdom in this conversation. Instead of blindly accepting tradition, he questions whether he and his neighbor benefit from their continual efforts to maintain a division between them.

The pine tree often symbolizes kinship and peace in literature. The neighbor's property is covered in pines. He is focused exclusively on maintaining peace through divisions, believing that his relationship with the speaker depends on clear barriers. He means no ill will toward the speaker and instead focuses on making steady progress through their efforts to reconstruct the deteriorating segments of their wall.

The speaker reflects that this yearly activity is an "out-door game / One on a side." This is symbolic of the outcome of divisions, alluding to the fact that games create both winners and losers.

The symbolism in the poem raises questions about the "walls" in our societies but allows the reader to draw their own conclusions regarding the need for those divisions.

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What is the symbolism in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

Major Symbols
The major symbols in "Mending Wall" are the stone wall and the "fences" spoken of by the neighboring farmer: "He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbours.'" Each slightly different from the other, both symbolize the artificial and deliberately constructed barriers humans seem inevitably to erect between themselves.

There are two attitudes toward these barriers conveyed in the poem. The first is that of the speaker, who seems to have a tolerant, amused attitude, although, being the poetic soul he is, his amusement is soon off-set by contemplative musings. The second attitude is that of the neighbor, who seems to have a serious, dutiful, no-nonsense attitude, which remains undeterred when the speaker tries to engage him in riddles about the superfluity of walls:

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours?...
[...]
...I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,..."

Another important symbol is the twice-said "Something there is that doesn't love a wall...," which is philosophically off-set by the twice-said "Good fences make good neighbours." Frost's metaphysically speculative observation of the "something" that doesn't love a wall can be taken literally as illustrated in the second line, which describes ground heaves of winter's frozen earth [today in New England, brightly colored strings are stapled to utility poles warning drivers of "Ground Heave," which can buckle roads up into ridges one or even two feet high]: "That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,...." The symbolic meaning of this "something" relates to the paradoxical desire in humans for psychological and emotional intimacy even while erecting barriers to such intimacy: "something" is the hesitance to be known paradoxically opposing the desire to be known.

Secondary Symbols
There are secondary symbols in "Mending Wall." Some are "spills" and "gaps," paradoxically symbolizing either (a) damage leading to vulnerability, such as hunters (symbolizing careless, destructive people) in pursuit of symbolically innocent rabbits, or (b) openings leading to opportunities, such as are created by "something," perhaps an inner "ground-swell" of psychological expansion. Another symbol is "spring mending-time," symbolic of a cyclical opportunity for renewal that continually offers new chances at the psychological and emotional intimacy desired (and, from the mending wall neighbor, continually resisted). 

Another significant symbol is the place, a specific section along the neighbor's wall, where there is no need for a wall: "There where it is we do not need the wall." This place symbolizes a recurring opportunity between people to find the desired connectedness, perhaps in ever-present social situations in which renewal of opportunity is present on a recurring basis.

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What are the symbols that Frost presents in "Mending Wall"?

The speaker tells us that his neighbor on the other side of the wall has a grove of pine trees while his own property contains an apple orchard. Pine trees are, of course, coniferous, and they do not shed their needles in the fall but keep them all year round. Apple trees are deciduous, and they shed their leaves in the fall, growing apple blossoms in the spring and then apples in the summer and early fall. Pine trees seem so serious and dour compared to the joyful burst of flowers put forth by apple trees, as though they are quite prim compared to the apple trees that grow flowers, then fruit, the lose their leaves, then do it all again. When the narrator says that "Spring is the mischief in [him]" a few lines later, it makes it seem as though the apple trees symbolize him, while the pine trees symbolize his neighbor. He doesn't like the wall, as he says, multiple times, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall, / That wants it down." The apple trees lead a rather messy life compared to the pine trees. They shed leaves and flowers and fruit, and they live lives that seem full of excitement and change; just like their flowers and fruit burst forth from them, the narrator doesn't mind change and resents the idea of confinement. Pine trees, on the other hand, don't really change much and appear orderly and rather straightforward, by comparison; they seem so much like the neighbor who also seems serious and orderly and wants his boundary so meticulously maintained.

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What are the symbols that Frost presents in "Mending Wall"?

"The Mending Wall" is a poem that contains many symbols, the chief of which is the mending wall itself. The mending wall can represent separation or alienation--the walls that people construct to separate themselves from others:

"Good fences make good neighbors."

Or it can symbolize the adherence to ritual and routine even when the ritual or routine  no longer serves any purpose: 

There where it is we do not need the wall

In addition, it may also symbolize a unity or connection between people as both neighbors come together each spring to repair the wall. 

The characters in this poem are symbolic as well.  The neighbor is the symbol of tradition. He will

not go behind his father's saying

while the speaker is the symbol of creativity and rebellion:

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out.

These symbolic elements work nicely in the poem to show the complexities of human interactions.  A balance certainly is needed between connection and separation; ritual and whimsy, following tradition and questioning it.   

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What are the symbols that Frost presents in "Mending Wall"?

The primary symbol in "Mending Wall" is the wall bordering the narrator's property. The physical barrier of the wall represents the psychological or symbolic barrier between the narrator and his neighbor. The season of Spring, which deteriorates the wall, could symbolize the narrator's repressed feeling that he would like the wall to come down and to have a closer relationship with his neighbor, or, conversely, it could also reinforce his desire to keep the wall in place since he is fixing it throughout the poem. The neighbor could symbolize the narrator's distrust of society, since he shows that he would like to remain separated by the fence.

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Can you identify a simile in the poem "Mending Wall"?

A simile is a comparison that uses the words 'like' or 'as.' As other answers have noted, there is but one simile in this poem:

I see him there Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed
In this simile, the speaker likens his neighbor to a stone-age savage. This is appropriate for the poem and expresses the speaker's mindset. He is drawing a sharp distinction between his own enlightened thought and the traditional, unenlightened thought of his neighbor.
The speaker, a rationalist, sees no point in the annual ritual of mending the stone wall between his and his neighbor's property every year. There is no need for a wall, the speaker thinks, because neither of them raises livestock that could wander onto the other person's property and cause damage. However, the neighbor doggedly insists that they continue with this tradition because his father's wisdom is that good fences make good neighbors.
Since the speaker is trying to favorably contrast his rationalist point of view against the traditionalism of his neighbor, he compares the neighbor to a savage. This helps bolster the speaker as "right" and more sophisticated in his viewpoint. The speaker extends the metaphor (a simile is a subset of metaphor, as a metaphor is a comparison between two objects) of the neighbor as a savage when he says the man walks in "darkness." The speaker clarifies that this is not only a darkness of trees and woods, but of his neighbor's way of thinking.
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Can you identify a simile in the poem "Mending Wall"?

While there is only one simile in "Mending Wall"—in which the speaker says that his neighbor is "like an old-stone savage armed"—there are examples of metaphorical or other comparative language. One example of this is when the speaker refers to the activity he and his neighbor are engaged in as "just another kind of out-door game." The context in which the language is used suggests that the speaker sees the activity as senseless and without purpose, much the same as a child's game would be. The neighbor, on the other hand, sees the activity as much more serious and necessary, backing his conviction up with the saying "Good fences make good neighbors."

The neighbor seems to believe that fences are important structures because they will solve potential arguments between neighbors before they happen and keep the peace. It's an adult interpretation and could be considered common sense. However, the narrator tries to suggest that there is no logic to the argument:

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.

There is nothing that might cross the boundary set by the wall, so what is the purpose of having the wall? The neighbor ignores the logic and clings to (and repeats) his saying, "Good fences make good neighbors." In this discourse, the two men are engaged in a looping conversation very similar in tone to the way children might quarrel.

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Can you identify a simile in the poem "Mending Wall"?

If they exist, you can find similes in the poem (or in any piece of text) by skimming for the words "like" or "as," or looking for places where the speaker is comparing one thing to another thing.

"Mending Wall," however, is certainly not brimming with similes like many other poems are. The speaker of this poem is very matter-of-fact, very realistic, and he describes images and actions as they truly are.

However, if we look toward the very end of the poem, we'll find one definite simile and one comparison that we might also label a simile:

"I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed."

Above, the speaker notices that his neighbor is working on the wall by holding tightly to the top of a stone with each hand. He compares his neighbor to a savage, perhaps a caveman, who also grasps a stone and uses that as a tool or a weapon. The simile between the real neighbor and the imagined savage expresses the speaker's slight distaste for his neighbor. 

We move a little farther down the poem and notice this observation, too:

"He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees."

Is this a simile? It has the word "as," right? And it's also a comparison between what's real and what the speaker imagines. But whether we call it a simile or not depends on how strictly you define the term. We could say, yes, this is a simile between the neighbor working in the shade and the savage working in darkness. Or we could say, no, this is simply an example of exaggeration or general figurative language.

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How does the author demonstrate metaphor in the poem "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

A metaphor is the wall, which not only physically but emotionally and socially separates the neighbors.

Metaphor is the use of direct comparison, where the author compares two unlike things by saying they are the same.  It usually uses a linking verb such as is or was.

In this case, the wall is a metaphor.  We often talk of putting up emotional or mental walls between us and other people.  These protect us, and prevent us from getting close to others.  In this case, the neighbor seems to think that neighbors are better off not knowing each other very well.  Yet the speaker feels uneasy about it

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.

The speaker does not see a reason to keep the wall there, mentally or physically.  He thinks that there is no reason for separation. Maybe they could be friends, or get to know each other.  Why do they have to stay apart?  He would prefer more closeness, and to leave the wall alone, both literally and figuratively.

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What examples of personification are there in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The erosion of the fence and the apple trees are personified.

Personification is the description of something innate or not human as if it were a person.  For example, there is some phantom force personified in this poem that doesn’t like walls and tears this one down every year.

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.

There is not actually anything there that doesn’t like walls.  Time erodes the wall and causes parts of it to come down.  The speaker just personifies this force of normal erosion, saying that it “doesn’t love a wall.”  The one who really does not love the wall is the speaker.  He gets annoyed by the process of repeatedly rebuilding the wall, which he considers to be unnecessary in the first place.

Another example of personification is the apple, trees, which may actually be compared to animals.

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.'

The apple trees are not actually able to move, and of course that is the speaker’s point.  Apple trees getting up and walking over to eat pinecones is very silly.  This is the reason why the speaker doesn’t want a fence. It makes sense to have a fence if you have animals that you have to keep in.

The moral of the story with this poem is that you are going to be able to more easily get along with your neighbor if there is a fence between the two of you.  The speaker prefers closer contact with the neighbor, but the neighbor wants to maintain the fence between them.  The less you see of your neighbor, the better, according to him.

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In "Mending Wall," what connotative language and images does Robert Frost use?

When examining connotative language in any poem, it is essential to delve into the use of language as trying to convey something beyond dictionary meaning. Connotative language enables the poet to use language as a portal of relevance and purpose.  In this light, the words identified for their connotative element and the images that Frost employs in the poem are meant to explore the thematic conditions in the poem.

One example of connotative language is seen in the very title.  "Mending" is connotative because of how it functions in the poem.  On one hand, it can be seen as representative of the repairing of the wall.  It is the annual ritual in which the neighbors participate.  They fix the wall that has been damaged, and repair the gaps that have formed as a result of the natural and human constructed conditions that surround the wall.  The use of "mending" speaks to the actual repair, the work in which both men speak to the rocks that form the wall:  "Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"  When we delve into the word, it reflects something like sewing, as in to mend a dress.  The notion of sewing something up can mean closing it off, no longer allowing space to present itself.  Such a connotation connects to the refrain of "Good fences make good neighbors" where the mending of the wall closes up any possibility of connect between both men.

The image of the wall itself becomes a dominant element in the poem.  It represents a boundary, a line that cannot be crossed.  Frost is skilled enough to understand how boundaries are an intrinsic part of the human condition. Boundaries come to define an individual through external marking of a line or point that cannot be crossed, only approached.  The image of the wall represents this in the poem.  It is a boundary that marks out the potential for human endeavor and, in this case, human contact. This is seen in the question posed about walls, in general:  "Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out."  The wall is symbolic of how some boundaries cannot be overcome and that one's mode of being in the world is heavily influenced by the boundaries that exist in it.

In describing how the neighbor moves in his placement of the stones, Frost suggests that he moves in "darkness."  The use of "darkness" contains layers of connotative meaning.  "Darkness" can reflect the lack of clarity about the motive regarding the fence, the external boundary.  The "darkness' of not being certain is evident in this use.  It can also represent a form of closing off, as in the more gaps that are filled, the darkness the wall presents as a looming figure.  The "darkness" could also represent the neighbor's state of mind, close off from thinking any other way outside of "Good fences make good neighbors." It is a form of darkness meant to keep the speaker in the dark as to his neighbor's life and consciousness.  In keeping consistent with the idea of wondering what one was "walling in or walling out," the darkness could represent a type of force that is being kept in or kept out by the wall.  The "something" that opens the poem is contrasted with the "darkness" at its conclusion.  The connotative image of darkness towards the conclusion of the poem helps to "illuminate" a different aspect of the ritual, the wall, and the boundaries it demarcates.

Finally, the word "neighbor" is significant to the poem.  It represents the wall's purpose, as well as the critical element in the father's maxim.  The neighbor could simply be the person who lives on the other side.  Yet, it could also come to represent the forces that exist outside of ourselves.  Frost is posing the fundamental question of how we appropriate boundaries and the impact this has on the people who exist on the other side of them, our "neighbors."  What individuals do in facing the boundaries in their own lives and whether or not these objects that demarcate end up making "good neighbors" is a critical question to ask.  The traditional notion of a neighbor is one who does not really adhere to boundaries.  When examining the standard use of "neighbor," one is confronted with the exact opposite of isolation, separation, and distance.  Yet, the use of the term in light of boundaries is of vital importance to the maxim that helps to shape the poem. It helps to maintain the civility between people who are different and opposites to one another. The reader is left to question how boundaries might actually save and preserve the "neighbor" relationship, in the process reconfiguring how one sees the "neighbor" as both image and verbal pattern of recognition.  

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What is the tone of Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall"?

As another educator has mentioned, Frost employs a few tones as he progresses through this poem. However, if I had to label the entire message of the poem with a singular tone, I'd go with reflective.

Much of the poem is presented as a question through an easy, conversational use of language. The speaker notes that he participates in this ritual of mending a broken wall each spring, but he isn't quite sure what he and his neighbor are trying to keep in or keep out. After all, his neighbor's property is covered in pine trees, and his own is full of apple trees; he even tells the neighbor that it isn't like his apples are going to run over and eat the pine cones.

Yet the neighbor continues on with the work, intent on repairing each stone which has fallen. Why? What is the point of this repetitive work?

In the end, the speaker notes that his neighbor believes in the traditions of his own father and of the adage he has heard: Good fences make good neighbors. He isn't likely to change it because he "likes having thought of it so well." So here they are, completing their yearly task whose only purpose is to physically divide them so that they can be better neighbors.

And that's a great irony that the speaker reaches through his reflections. Is it human nature that we must create divisions in order to get along well with others? It's a question that the speaker never finds an answer to in this poem, but his reflective tone creates much the same response in the reader.

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What is the tone of Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall"?

A couple of distinctive features in Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” give us a clue about its tone. One of these features is Frost’s twisted but rich syntax, as we can see in the poem’s opening lines:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it

The other unusual aspect of the poem is that it frequently poses riddles and questions but leaves them unanswered. The poet puzzles over the boulders of his boundary wall toppling over repeatedly, almost of their own volition. But exactly, what is the “something” that won’t allow the stones to stay put? Frost doesn’t tell us.

Because of the idiosyncratic, roundabout syntax, and the questions raised in the poem, its tone is inquisitive, though tempered with humor, mischief, and gentleness. More than the poet, his neighbor is bothered by the shifty wall between their estates, often spouting the platitude:

Good fences make good neighbors

The poet questions this cliche, but he does not judge his neighbor too harshly for partaking in it. Mischievously, he wonders if he should put the idea in the neighbor’s head that it is the “elves” who are taking down the wall. Yet, he does not do so, wanting the neighbor to come up with such subversive notions himself. Thus, though the poet disagrees with the neighbor, he does not wish to control his thoughts. His tone is one of quiet acceptance.

Further, although the poet can see that the neighbor is like an “old stone-savage armed,” or set in his limited way of thinking, he acknowledges that the neighbor is pleased with his own thought process:

And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Therefore, at a deeper level, the poem’s mood is one of co-existence. To fight with a narrow-minded neighbor would be propagating another cliche, which the poet is loathe to do. His tone towards the wall—which, it should be noted, he keeps mending alongside the neighbor every spring—is of playful forbearance.

Finally, walls such as the one in the poem, do exist in the world, like arbitrary political boundaries. Though the poet questions their purpose, he plays along with their illusion, hoping one day his neighbor too will see they don't need a boundary wall to keep the apple trees of one eating the pine cones of the other! Thus, the poem's tone is also that of allegory, where the wall could stand for a border between countries. Are such borders necessary, or do they create an atmosphere of alienation and suspicion? The poet leaves us with an important question.

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What is the tone of Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall"?

To determine the speaker’s tone in Robert Frost’s "Mending Wall," it is best to examine the diction (word choice) and imagery (sensory language).

"Doesn’t love," "spills," and "gaps" in the first section of the poem all have a negative connotation. This shows that the speaker may believe it is a nuisance that the wall must be mended every spring.

The speaker then describes how he and his neighbor "keep the wall between [them] as [they] go," trying to rebalance boulders, which he describes as "loaves" and "balls." The phrasing and imagery in these examples shows that the pair collaborate to fix the wall, but they remain separated the entire time. Paired with the earlier diction, this could suggest that the speaker doesn’t want to work with other people and would prefer to be alone.

However, the tone changes with the line that begins, "Spring is the mischief in me." The speaker wonders if he could convince his neighbor that they do not need the fence at all. He says to his neighbor that it might be good to ponder what he is "walling in or walling out" before saying that fences "make good neighbors." These examples of diction show that the speaker actually thinks his neighbor—and maybe even himself—is silly to think he needs a physical barrier to enforce his mental one.

In the final section of the poem, the speaker describes the neighbor as "an old-stone savage armed," which indicates that the neighbor is set in his ways and perhaps hostile to the speaker's ideas. When the neighbor repeats his mantra about fences again, the speaker assumes a wary tone toward both the fence and his neighbor, who is unwilling to go against tradition.

Ultimately, the shifting tone of the poem reflects Frost's message that certain traditions should be questioned and only serve to isolate us from one another.

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What is the meaning of lines 40 to 46 in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

Line 40 finishes a sentence that was begun in Line 36.  It describes the neighbor who is compared to an "old-stone savage armed," as he lifts a stone and places it on top the wall.  Yet, it is not just this action that makes him like a "stone savage"; it is also his inability or refusal to question tradition, unlike the speaker who questions the need for a wall.  Thus, the neighbor "moves in darkness" (line 41), most likely the darkness of ignorance.  We know the "darkness" is metaphorical because the speaker says the darkness is not only of woods or "of shade of trees" (line 42).  The speaker refuses to question his father's saying (line 43) ; in fact he enjoys recalling this saying so much that he repeats it (line 44):  "Good fences make good neighbors" (line 45).  The latter line is paradoxical, because the neighbor is right.  The building of the walls does bring the two men together; but it also separates them.  This last line repeated twice (line 26 and line 45) in the poem is a counter to the speaker's line also repeated in the poem: "Something there is that doesn't love a wall"  (line 1 and line 35).

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What are examples of literary devices in "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

When the narrator says, "He is all pine and I am apple orchard," he does not actually mean that his neighbor is made of pine and the speaker is made of apple orchard. He means that his neighbor's property has a great many pine trees on it, as his contains an apple orchard. He is substituting "He" and "I" for their respective properties, equating the men themselves with the land they own—as this seems most appropriate given the fact that the poem is about the wall between their two properties. This kind of substitution is called metonymy, when the speaker substitutes a thing associated with the thing her or she means for that thing.

Further, the speaker says, "spring is the mischief in me," using a metaphor to mean that the springtime has made him feel mischievous. Because he says that spring is the mischief in him, he equates the joyful feelings associated with spring with a mischievous feeling he experiences when having his annual meeting with his neighbor about the wall.

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What are examples of literary devices in "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

Here is an example of each literary technique mentioned:

Tone: The poet's tone is lightly critical. To show the lightness of the tone, the poet refers to the repairing of the wall as "oh, just another kind of outdoor game" and speaks of "the mischief in me." Still, he is critical of the neighbor: "He moves in darkness as it seems to me."

Allusion: The reference to elves alludes to fairy stories of beings that play tricks on farmers.

Parallelism: The poem has numerous examples of parallelism. Here are two: "He is all pine and I am apple orchard." "And set the wall between us once again. / We keep the wall between us as we go."

Consonance: "And eat the cones under his pines." "... nearly balls / We have to use a spell to make them balance."

Satire: The speaker pokes fun of the neighbor's blind clinging to adages from his ancestors:

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.'

Irony: It is ironic that the neighbor thinks they need a fence where there are no cows. "'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it / Where there are cows? But here there are no cows."

Disillusionment: The poet knows his neighbor will not change: "He will not go behind his father’s saying."

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What is the form and style of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

"Mending Wall" is one of Robert Frost's most famous poems. When you are asked about the form of something, you need to start with the very basics. At root, the form is "poetry." Delving more deeply, we consider what type of poetic form Frost has chosen. In this instance, we can see that the lines do not rhyme with each other, so it isn't a traditional poetic form like a sonnet or a ballad. However, at the same time, if you sound out the lines, you can hear that they fall into a distinct rhythm and pattern. This regular meter—known as iambic pentameter, because there are five stressed beats, or feet, per line—means that this is not a free verse poem. Although it does not rhyme, these metrical verse features mean that we refer to it as blank verse.

The question of style is a different one. Consider how the poet is addressing the reader. There are language features in the lines, such as when the speaker corrects or clarifies himself ("I mean") which give the feeling that the speaker is talking directly to us as readers. In this sense, then, the style could be said to be conversational. The use of interjections like "oh" and the fact that the poem is written in the first person give further weight to this impression.

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What is the form and style of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

"Mending Wall" is in blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. This is the verse form generally used for Shakespeare's plays (alongside prose and some rhymed verse), as well as for epic poetry such as Milton's Paradise Lost. In the nineteenth century, Tennyson began to use the form in dramatic monologues like "Ulysses" and "Tithonus", which this poem somewhat resembles.

The style of the poem varies between a conversational mesolect and a more formal, slightly archaic style, which is often achieved by variations in syntax. For instance, the opening line, which is repeated later in the poem:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall...

The vocabulary here is perfectly ordinary. It is the word order that gives the line its arresting formal quality. If Frost had written "There's something that doesn't love a wall," the line would have been prosaic. Milton, who had considerable influence on Frost, uses the same technique, which ultimately derives from Latin, an inflected language in which word order has less effect on meaning than it does in English, meaning that syntax is often arranged primarily for dramatic effect. However, Frost employs this effect sparingly. The next few lines feature quite simple, prosaic syntax, as do most lines in the poem, so that the occasional more highly-wrought phrases stand out in sharp relief.

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What is the form and style of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

The form of "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost is stichic rather than stanzaic. The term "stichic" means that the poem consists of lines of equal length printed continuously rather than divided up into separate stanzas. The meter of the poem is blank verse. The term "blank verse" means "unrhymed iambic pentameter." In other words, each line consists of five feet (hence "pentameter," since "penta-" means five), and each foot consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (a type of foot known as an iamb, thus "iambic").

The lines are often but not always enjambed, meaning that syntactically coherent sentences run over from one line to the next, something that works in concert with the simple language to give the poem a conversational style. This is enhanced by the way the narrator seems to be speaking to the reader as if chatting with a friend.

The metrical scheme is illustrated below, with stressed syllables marked in boldface and feet separated by a "|".

And spills | the up|per bould|ers in| the sun|;

And makes| gaps ev|en two| can pass| abreast|.

The work| of hunt|ers is an|other thing|:

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What is the form and style of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

Robert Frost is a poet renowned for his ability to write elegant blank verse. Sound and syllabic stresses are critical components of a poem's musical intonations: how a line may read on the page or out loud. Blank verse consists of unrhymed iambic pentameter, which is a meter consisting of five "iambs." An "iamb" is a type of "foot" (again, a measurement of meter) which consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Thus, a line of iambic pentameter consists of ten syllables in a pattern of unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed, etc. Let's examine a few lines from "Mending Walls." I will mark the unstressed syllable in italics and the stressed syllable in bold:

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

In these two lines, there are no errors in meter or other types of feet (like a trochee, which consists of a stressed syllable followed by an unfollowed syllable). Sustaining that kind of meter through an entire poem—not to mention a lifetime of work—is an incredible achievement.

Since all this technical information can get a bit complicated, just remember this: iambic pentameter sounds like the "lub-DUB" of a heartbeat. Try placing your hand over your heart and reading the above lines out loud, and you will find yourself getting a sense of this inherent metering.

Stylistically, this poem is much easier to describe. It is a narrative poem which employs dialogue to characterize the speaker's thoughts, as well as the attitudes of his neighbor.

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What is the form and style of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

Hi, Anurudha!

Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" is written in blank verse, which is unrhymed lines in iambic pentameter. The scheme is five pairs of syllables per line, unstressed followed by stressed. Say the first  part of the poem aloud:

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

The poem is a metaphorical dramatic narrative in style.

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Explain lines 7 to 11 in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall".

In the first 5 lines of the poem "The Mending Wall" by Robert Frost, Frost indicated that the earth doesn't like a wall, because the wall keeps crumbling on her, and doesn't stay intact.  It is almost like the earth is shrugging the wall off of her surface.  This causes a lot of damage to the rocks, creating "gaps even two can pass abreast," and this damage is what Frost and his neighbor go out to repair.  In lines 5 and 6, Frost refers to the damage done to the wall by hunters that he has to repair.  He clarifies in lines 7-11:

"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."

In these lines, Frost says that the hunters, in order to help the dogs get at the rabbits who have hid themselves in gaps in the wall, pull the stones apart, leaving "not one stone on a stone" to help them out.  The gaps that the rabbits hide in seem to always mysteriously appear; "no one has seen thme made or heard them made," but every year as he and his neighbor go walk the fence, they find them.

I hope that explanation helps to clear things up for you; good luck!

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Explain the first 5 lines of Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall".

"Mending Wall" by Robert Frost is a poem in which Frost contemplates why he and his friendly neighbor have a wall between their two properties.  He isn't enemies with his neighbor, they don't live in barbaric times where walls are needed to protect one another, they don't have animals that need fenced in...so, why have a wall?  Yet, every spring, he and his neighbor go out to this old stone wall and repair all of the stones that have fallen out of it throughout the year.  The first five lines go as follows:

"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:"

In these lines, Frost is admitting that there is something within himself that doesn't like a wall, and even the earth itself doesn't seem to like a wall.  The earth always seems to push "boulders in the sun," and create huge "gaps" in the wall, so large that "even two can pass abreast" (meaning, two people can walk through the gaps, side by side).  To Frost, even the earth itself seems to try to be shrugging the wall off of herself; the damage caused is so great that he has to go repair it every year.  The last line refers to hunters and the damage they do to the wall.  He goes on to explain that dogs chasing the rabbits chase them right to the wall where the rabbits burrow and hide, and the hunters pull the stones off to help the dogs get the rabbits.

So, the first 5 lines introduce the main concept of the poem, which is that a wall isn't necessarily a good thing, and requires a lot of upkeep--for what good?  I hope that this explanation helped a bit; good luck!

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What do lines 18-30 mean in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

These specific lines in Frost's "Mending Wall" illustrate the difference in personality between the speaker and the neighbor who wants to keep the wall alive and effective. There is a playful tone on the part of the speaker in his use of a "spell to make [the rocks] balance: 'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!' The neighbor only says "Good fences make good neighbors," which means that he doesn't want to muddy the relationship between them by becoming friends. Theoretically, if one becomes a friend, they leave themselves open to emotional injuries or other forms of bad blood. If they just keep to themselves and allow the fence and only the fence to mediate their relationship, then there is no problem. There can't be a problem.

You can tell the differences between their personalities in the comparison to apple orchards and pine trees. The speaker's "apple orchards" are ever-changing. They go through the seasons and change their attitudes. The bear sweet, inviting fruit. By contrast, pine trees are deciduous and they are needled, making them uninviting.

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.

In the end, the speaker still doesn't understand the concept, and he thinks about asking: 'Why do they make good neighbors?' He won't ask this question however, and the wall will remain a barrier between the two pieces of land.

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What do lines 18-25 mean in Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall"?

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.

I've included line 26 because it finishes the thought. I have always seen these lines as containing the best argument for the speaker's side. There is  a genuine and sweetly humorous interaction between the two men. Here they are, doing what they do every year, and they are, rough as the work is, having a little bit of boyish fun together. It's this feeling of brief camaraderie that prompts the speaker to suggest this about walls, mischievously:

'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 offence.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That wants it down.'

Unfortunately, the neighbor is not convinced by the arument nor the little fun they've shared and would prefer to keep things just as they've always been.

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What do lines 18-25 mean in Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall"?

To me, out of the lines you mention, the following lines are expressing one idea while the rest of them are on a different topic altogether.

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.

Those lines are showing the wall mending as a game.  They are looking at the work in a humorous way, saying that it is difficult to make the stones stay up -- they need to use magic.

But then in the rest of the lines you mention, the speaker moves to the theme of his argument with the neighbor.  The speaker thinks the wall is unnecessary, but the neighbor wants it anyway.

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