Robert Frost

(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963 / San Francisco)

Mending Wall

Poem by Robert Frost

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."

Comments about Mending Wall by Robert Frost

  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (7/29/2019 8:04:00 PM)

    I take the side of Frost's neighbor, 'Good fences make good neighbors'. You need something to wall off a close neighbor.(Report)Reply

    Joe Turner(1/6/2020 11:28:00 AM)

    Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out, "

    Joe Turner(1/6/2020 11:27:00 AM)

    " ...
    Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,

    1 person liked.
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  • Don Smith (10/24/2018 7:05:00 PM)

    Upon first read, Mending Wall conjures up visions of traditional New England seasons with their image known only to its natives.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • memey boi 21 (7/4/2018 12:16:00 PM)

    EVERYONE DISLIKE THIS COMMENT *goal*: 100 dislikes(Report)Reply

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  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (12/10/2015 1:42:00 PM)

    Something there is that loves a Frost poem. I wonder if there is a man or woman who walks this earth and does not appreciate his works. If there are they must have built some impenetrable walls around themselves and thus miss the love freedom can bring to a life.(Report)Reply

    Paul Burke(12/12/2017 7:02:00 PM)

    Two years since the last comment? ...I so love Frost's works and I pick them up each year in December to read in winter....Emerson follows as I wait for Spring...
    It is my little stop without a farmhouse near... My thinking is RF was not a bog fan of walls between neighbors.

    26 person liked.
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  • Robert Reynolds (12/10/2015 12:54:00 AM)

    The line Good Fences make good neighbors says it all. You stay on your side and I'll stay on mine, a good wall assures them of that with no pass throughs or reason s to see each other(Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
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  • Preston Morimondo (4/10/2014 8:58:00 AM)

    Grayson Cash, you're making a typical mistake that many make when reading Frost. The narrator is not the poet. Frosts narrators are seldom reliable. This one asserts that it's ridiculous to say things like good fences make good neighbors while he simultaneously cooperates with his neighbor on the only thing that unites them. The wall brings them together. The narrator is too cynical to figure this out.(Report)Reply

    22 person liked.
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  • Joe Toboni (1/25/2014 8:13:00 AM)

    Folks you all missed it. Neither neighbor is right. One is aloof, the other needy.(Report)Reply

    23 person liked.
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  • Walter White (1/4/2014 6:06:00 AM)

    I first read this in grade school in 1979, my favorite poem, as a small child and to this day I seen it is about the indifferences of people and how respect plays it's role. One neighbor doesn't see the need for the wall but the other needs it for his own securities. The wall represents mutual respect.(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
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  • Claire Thomas (4/13/2013 12:31:00 PM)

    My favourite poem.Much analysed.Simply about nature, like He said? About tradition, predjudice, and fear.I work in mental health.Sometimes good fences make good neighbours! We also have locked fences around the rubbish skips...(Report)Reply

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  • Timothy Baxter (3/29/2013 12:49:00 PM)

    Too, don't miss that it is Frost himself who doesn't love a wall. He's punning on his own last name. It's the frozen ground during the winter (frost) that expands and swells as it melts in the spring, thereby displacing or spilling the upper boulders and causing the need to mend the wall every year. It's a clever poem, with a great message. Basically he doesn't love the barriers that exist between people or beings.(Report)Reply

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  • Grayson Cash (1/7/2013 10:11:00 AM)

    Sun princess, you miss the point of the poem. Frost is mocking his neighbor's point of view. Frost is asking, 'why do we need a wall? My trees won't escape to your land.' Something there is that doesn't love a wall Think about that.(Report)Reply

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  • Grayson Cash (1/7/2013 10:10:00 AM)

    Sun princess, you miss the point of the poem. Frost is mocking his neighbor's point of view. Frost is asking, 'why do we need a wall? My trees won't escape to your land.' Something there is that doesn't love a wall Think about that.(Report)Reply

    22 person liked.
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  • * Sunprincess * (10/28/2012 9:04:00 AM)

    wow..a masterpiece..good fences make good my privacy..fabulous!(Report)Reply

    24 person liked.
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  • Andrew Hoellering (5/28/2009 9:07:00 AM)

    The key line for understanding the poem is “There where it is we do not need a wall” as this explains Frost’s attitude to it. It is superfluous to requirements, and Frost makes fun of it and criticises the mind -set that led to it being built in the first place.
    A wall is unnatural (lines to 4) and line 4 is ironic as Frost likes the idea of two being able to walk side by side.
    Hunters have caused the damage to the wall (line 5) and Frost and his neighbour meet to make the necessary repairs. Nature is also against the wall (lines 9 and 10)
    You should now be able to illustrate Frost’s attitude to the wall, citing the following lines in which he makes fun of it by saying that the meeting too repair it is “just another kind of out-door game.”
    Other key lines for understanding the poem are “He moves in darkness as it seems to me/Not of woods only and the shade of trees.” What other kind of darkness is there?
    Surely the darkness of ignorance, and here we come to the heart of the poem.
    The neighbour is a man who refuses to think for himself, “who will not go behind his father’s saying.” Here we are talking about racial prejudice, about anti- feminism, about fundamentalist religion at its most intolerant –about any blind belief that divides one human being from one another.
    In other words, “An old-stone savage armed” is Frost’s personification of the attitude of all those who prefer prejudice to reason.(Report)Reply

    60 person liked.
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  • Hira Ali (7/31/2008 6:37:00 AM)

    Fantastic, this is most favourite poem of mine. In very first line it is written that Something there is i think that this something is non living or elve or some fairy creature.The wall seperate both the neighbours from each other and in Spring season both repairs the wall.There is no reason for keeping a wall as there are no cows or other animals. Both the neighbours follow an old adage of 'good fences make good neighbours'may be these fences are necessary to be good neighbours.In this poem, may be poet wants to raise a question that we are heading towards destructive process? Many of Forster poem comments on creative process.On ground level we can find discussion disruption duality of creativity.(Report)Reply

    27 person liked.
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  • Graeme Lindridge (6/5/2007 7:42:00 PM)

    This a favorite poem of mine. Mostly, I don't like walls. However, I am glad to see there are walls around prisons with the evildoers inside and so keep us safe on the outside. But with that protection in existence why are any walls needed inside the prison? Remove those walls and the number wishing to become, or to remain, criminals will decline.
    Why is there a wall around the cemetery? Those inside cannot get out and those outside don't want to get in.
    The famous walls of history have been failures. eg Russia's non-physical Iron Curtain was replaced by a physical Berlin Wall. Both have dissapeared, and good riddance. Now, Israel is building a prison-like wall around itself to keep those on the inside safe from those on the outside. At least, that is the opposite of a normal prison.(Report)Reply

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  • Robert E Hann (12/11/2006 7:59:00 PM)

    Mending Wall has always been one of my favorite poems. first read in grade school, along with Poe's The Raven the verse introduced and even defined poetry to me.
    I never forget the lines that I read as, 'Some THING there is that doesn't love a wall', and, 'Good fences make good neighbors' Unlike the previous posters I believe that good fences DO make good neighbors...for what is a fence but a rule. A rule to say here is here and there is there. There are different types of fences to be sure. There are those that intimidate with barbed wire or steel gates and signs posted saying KEEP OUT Under Penalty of Law....and there are 'friendly fences' of rail or stone...gentle reminders that here is here and there is there. I say these fences DO good neighbors make.... just ask my good neighbors.(Report)Reply

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  • Jeffrey HatcherJeffrey Hatcher (10/8/2006 3:31:00 PM)

    Earliest poem I heard spoken from the pulpit. Gave the complete works of Frost to a Kenyan friend who was the head of the Kenyan Institute for Mass Communication. He later told me that he kept the book next to his Bible. Anyone familiar with tribalism in all of its guises can appreciate this poem. Frost's indictment of over-reliance on the wisdom of elders (at the expense of the ventures of youth) is damning to 'this uncertain age in which we dwell'.(Report)Reply

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  • Robert Howard (8/9/2006 7:44:00 PM)

    I remember adoring this poem in high school and concluding very quickly that good fences do not make good neighbors and in fact fences, whether built of steel wood or aluminum or of flights of arrogance, are the enemies of good neighbor relations.

    As an adult I have only lived in one house that had a fence and I tore it down after I moved in.(Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: spring, father, work, sun, tree, dog

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003