Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulder in the sun,
And make 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 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.
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 outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There were 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 neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“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 offense.
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 though of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall

67 Comments

  1. syila says:

    i think that fences make and built the gap between people.there shouldn’t be any gaps or differences between people.

  2. Rob Lauri says:

    WE SHOULD LEARN FROM NATURE–TAKE THE WALL DOWN AND LEARN TO BECOME GOOD NEIGHBORS. THE WALL IS PREVENTING US FROM BEING TOO FRIENDLY. WITH THE WALL–WE WILL NEVER LEARN. I WOULD LIKE TO WRITE A POEM ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF BRENDA FROM CANADA.

  3. Robert says:

    I think that the poem is being overanalyzed. The true value in this piece is Frost and his use brilliant use of language. He coined an eloquent and intriguing phrase and is finding an excuse to use it while having some fun with it. “Good fences” DO “make good neighbors” The rest is Frost being as colorful and playful with language as he ca be.

  4. Chupito says:

    I Think this poem inspires people to stop the discrimination between each other and the segregation in society.

  5. Don from North Carolina says:

    I believe a clue to the meaning of the poem is right in front of our eyes in plain sight. I believe that Frost chose the title, “Mending Wall”, to make his meaning clear, and that intention is irony. While some may say that good fences make good neighbors, as does the “old-stone savage” who unthinkingly repeats it like a mantra, because they ensure that one’s activities do not interfere with the other’s, it is clear, as the narrator/speaker plainly says: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” That something is nature, both the organic and the human. The dogs overturn them trying to get the rabbits out of hiding, and people overturn them trying to remove the barriers to their freedom. The wall of the poem is not really a mending, healing or reparative, structure. Instead, it merely reinforces the isolation of man from other men. I believe it is Frost’s diatribe against isolationist political philosophies gaining credence worldwide. Too bad Frost did not live to see the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

  6. Maricel Suico says:

    I think this poem talks about being alone. Be in oneself. Don’t care about other people or maybe this talks on trust towards other people.

  7. Allison says:

    This poem has 3 meanings. I think the whole poem is symbol of American Isolationism during the beginning of WWI (being written in 1914 when WWI began). Each line has a literal meaning (an actual wall), a deeper meaning (the personal thoughts involved with personal walls) and a symbollic meaning (the holes in the wall being previous disputes with other involved countries).

  8. Susan says:

    I completely agree with most concepts on this poem – about social segregation and division of relationships, but when analysing this poem, two things puzzle me – what is the importance of the hunters and the elves?!

  9. Kent says:

    “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.'”

    The problem is that the neighbor has not thought of it at all; he simply repeats what his father told him, whose father told him, etc. In short, he has taken an adage for truth without really looking into the validity of it.

    In that way we build walls around us–walls of ignorance because we do not take the time to look at our actions and values in the open light.

    Frost shows this ignorance by painting the neighbor in this way:

    “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.”

    It is the darkness of ignorance. It is the darkness caused by walls without meaning, the ignorance of not thinking for ourselves what is right and what is wrong, the ignorance of “old-stone” savages who corral their ideas and lives into neat little pens, who fail to contemplate their own lives.

  10. debbie dee says:

    I think you may lack knowledge of Frost’s great sense of humor. He is playing with us a good time.”before I built a wall I ….to know to whom I gave offense. If you’ve ever been to Boston you know the ground is all stone and bolders. To clear a small patch for growing takes a mighty effort and so almost 100% of the homes and farms are surrounded by these bolders..you know “put them over there temporarily.” But Frost uses this situation to make you think about “your father’s words” and maybe you can make some charitable changes of your own. debbie dee

  11. Abdullah says:

    I think Roberts brain is, “frosted” just like his poems. Can’t his poems get any better. My view is that the neighbour is a homosexual.

  12. invisi says:

    Oops… Sorry everyone, I’ve found my answer, and sorry for posting that.

    I agree with most people that this poem is enjoyable and fun. It hit me when I finally read it correctly. I’m glad I understood its meaning.

  13. invisi says:

    this should be easy for you people that know how to properly analyze this poem…. How does the neighbor feel about the wall? please help….me…please…

    I thought that the neighbor felt secure and happy about having a wall because it “makes good neighbors”, but i’m not sure…

  14. Albert C says:

    I think this poem requires deep thought and understanding for you to be able to know the meaning of it. It tells us about the wall collapsing, by nature, and by hunters and the two neighbours mending the wall at springtime each mend the part of the wall which the stone has fallen down to. They never cross to the other person’s side but the narrator doesn’t believe they need a wall.

  15. Terry Berg says:

    Nature may have no need for walls, but men and countries do. It is part of our nature to set boundaries for ourselves and what we believe in. Mexico’s Presidente Fox would benefit from re-reading this poem.

  16. Allison says:

    The speaker of the poem clearly dislikes the wall – he doesn’t see the need for a barrier between his neighbor and him. His neighbor finds use for the wall in keeping their relationship on a particular level – the mending of the wall reminds them that they must actively work to keep each other separate. Frost comments on the nature of humans with the mention of gaps regularly forming in the wall – it is not a human tendency to isolate oneself from others, and not a naturally occurring thing – the wall breaks down over time and must be actively mended. The wall is not necessarily physical, but metaphorical – relationships cannot always remain the same with the passage of time. Circumstances change and with them the nature of the relationship, for better or worse. To fight change is futile because it will always come back, as the gaps in the wall do. The neighbor follows his father’s maxim, believing it to be true, because he does not want to accept change – hence his following his father’s words and not what he perhaps wants, which may or may not fall in with his father’s tendencies.

    Will gladly answer (polite) responses to this comment through e-mail. I must also point out that this poem is most emphatically not about the Cold War – Robert Frost died in 1963.

  17. jassi sokhey says:

    i think it is a great poem by Frost. This poem makes you feel the value of relationships and responsibility . This is the wall that bring two neighbors close. Fexing it every year means they are aware towards others privacy and comfort. Thats why “Good fences make good neighbors.”

  18. Lindsey says:

    Everyone talks about the mending of the wall here, but I think thta people are missing something. In the beginning, when Frost says that the gaps in the wall are made, but no one knows by whom or why – thye just have to fix them. I think this breaking down of the wall by something other than these neighbors symbolizes the need to not have walls – the underlying character of nature – completely wall-less and open.

  19. Linda Shaffer says:

    I think that this poem is a pleasant statement about life in 1914…and today. We do things with people to keep the peace and be polite regardless of our inner aversion to the behavior. This poem reflects respect of others and inner playfullnes. I think it is refreshingly encouraging.

  20. Michael says:

    I disagree with Melissa from australias comments. This poem cannot be about the cold war and involving the Berlin wall as this poem was published in 1914 and the cold war was post WWII (1945+). Rather this poem is a metaphor for the barriers we create between ourselves for no rational reason. Are we so paranoid that we cant let anyone get close to us? That is essentially what this poem is about.

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