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Thread: Robert Frost and of Isolation

  1. #1

    Robert Frost and of Isolation

    Hello, everyone. As if I have not already posted enough threads in the 'Poetry' forum, I thought this below poem, by Robert Frost, especially worth sharing. I once wrote an interpretative essay about it; after reading it again today, I discovered new deductive concepts. What are your interpretations? According to the work, do we overly-isolate ourselves? Why do we feel most comfortable that way?

    Mending Wall

    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,
    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 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.
    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 offence.
    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."

    Robert Frost

  2. #2
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    Hey mono, I am not too familiar with Frost, but wouldn't mind learning more. I really liked this line...

    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:


    Not with that line particulary, but from some clues in the poem, it sounds almost like Frost is assuming the persona of an apple tree.

  3. #3
    Thank you, Shore Dude, sometimes I feel like the only poetry geek around here, let alone the only Robert Frost admirer. Out of curiosity, is that a selection from one of his poems or a whole one? It does not look familiar to me, but, then again, he wrote quite a bit in his lifetime. "Mending Wall" may prove as my favorite of his, but most people like this one, his most popular, especially with those haunting last lines:

    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound's the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

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    No mono, that line was from "Mending Wall" -- I've never read it before and I just wanted to tell you I thought that particular line was great.

    I have read "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" before. Great poem. It really has a magical, Christmasy tone to it. He says the darkest evening of the year which makes me assume it is Dec 22nd or the winter solstice. I also really enjoy this poem, because it is so relatable. I can't think how many times I have stopped with no one around, to just watch and listen to the snow fall. It's such a peaceful silence.

  5. #5
    Oops! How dumb of me that I did not realize those lines were from "Mending Wall." I completely agree, however, with your interpretations of both poems posted. In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," he adds such a dark, mysterious tone that sends a tingling sensation through my spine; most people perceive winter as a time of holidays for unity, peace, and happiness, when his perception of it through the work reflects more of an isolated, still peaceful, but neither cynical nor optimistic view.

  6. #6
    Who, ME? trismegistus's Avatar
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    "Mending Wall" is ALWAYS a good poem to put up. Like you, mono, it's probably my favorite Frost. It's loaded with wonderful images and some lovely, memorable phrases, not least the neighbor's saying. The only thing I don't like about the work are the two lines: "Oh, just another kind of out-door game, / One on a side. It comes to little more:"

    The poem pivots on these lines, and they just don't seem strong enough to me. But this is a quibble. "Mending Wall" is a poem I can read over and over again and never tire of it.

  7. #7
    Good morning, Campers! Jay's Avatar
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    Seems to me like new ideology colliding with the original one. Depends on what exactly you understand under the meaning of 'fence' and what is their meaning in one's country.
    In my American Cultural Studies class the teacher (he's American btw) told us that in the US, if anyone would cross the fence running round my property I could shoot them and be in right when/if brought before the court. Not sure if people in the US still can do that for trespassing one's fences nowadays.
    Anyway, what I wanted to say, if the neighbor thinks along the lines of the 'American fences' he's not likelly to be a friendly person, now not meaning shooting people but not letting them into his head, as in being conservative, close minded. If the other guy, the speaker of the poem speaks about he'd first needed to know why to build fences before getting to build them, he seems to be opened for suggestions before deciding whether to build it or not (whether to accept an idea or not).
    My two cents .
    I have a plan: attack!

  8. #8
    I can see your point, Jay. Every one has their own personal fences, but those set up around a culture tend to have much stronger ties; the physical borders, I feel, can also stand in the place of new ideas, or what one could deem as enlightenment (without sounding too cliché). Though I see fences in their abstract meaning, I think that the more active mind needs no boundaries.

  9. #9
    Good morning, Campers! Jay's Avatar
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    Fences you wanted to say .
    Yeah, part of my point also was how much the peot's nationality should be taken into consideration. Were the poet (of this particular poem) of any other nationality, would it be the same? Should it be the same? I think if we're about to discuss this point though, we're going to never solve it as there's cons and pros for both options.
    I have a plan: attack!

  10. #10
    Good morning, Campers! Jay's Avatar
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    Just been going through the uni library's Frost's books... found a note to this one:

    He and his neighbour, between them, annually repaired the wall that separates their farms, each working from his own side and keeping pace with the other. Although neither of them raised sheep or cows that might stray into the crops - Frost had only aplle-trees; his neighbour pines - the repairs were made to justify the proverb 'Good fences make good neighbours!' And if anyone asks: 'But what is the something that doesn't love a wall?, the answer is, of course, 'frost' - also its open-hearted namesake, Robert Frost.
    - Robert Graves
    I have a plan: attack!

  11. #11
    pregnant with ideas,, rocksea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mono
    , but most people like this one, his most popular, especially with those haunting last lines:

    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

    Whose woods these

  12. #12
    Wow! Thank you, rocksea, very much; I appreciate your sharing.

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    dancing before the storms baddad's Avatar
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    .And with no further ado as to where I've recently been, an absence less noted, my own travails and recently traveled paths stand hidden in the shadow as I step forth and declare in loud voice......R. Frost RULES!!!!

    Eloquent praise? Perhaps not............., "but the only other sound's the sweep of easy wind and downy flake"......

  14. #14
    Good morning, Campers! Jay's Avatar
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    Hi baddad , welcome back... wonder what would baddad do if I tried to hug him ... don't care
    *hugs*
    I have a plan: attack!

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    dancing before the storms baddad's Avatar
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    .....hugs appreciated.......its all about peace and love my friends.....Carpe Diem.....

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