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"Good Fences Make Good Neighbors"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The famous poem from which this quotation comes describes the old New England custom of "walking the line" in early spring in order to replace stones fallen from the wall during the winter, thus making sure that the boundary is clearly marked. The speaker, in whom spring raises a spirit of mischief, quietly teases his neighbor by pointing out that "My apple trees will never get across/ And eat the cones under his pines." The humorless neighbor merely replies with the statement about the value of good fences. In contrast is the opening line, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall;" thus, we have in the poem two opposing principles. Frost lets the reader draw his own conclusions, only saying, many years after writing the poem, "I played exactly fair in it." The poem begins:

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