MENDING WALL 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 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 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 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 thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
When I was in the 9th Grade we were required to memorize a poem. I picked this one – MENDING WALL.
I was terrified that I would not be able to do it – the poem is a long one and I was in awe of Robert Frost back then. I still am. How could I do him justice? But I did a good job of it and all these 54 years later I can still recite it with only a few lines that stumble.
During this latest election cycle I have thought of this poem. Talk of walls and savages and the decay of systems have made me wonder about how our society is breaking down.
When I was young I did not worry about that sort of thing.
When Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of our United States I was 9 years old in the 4th Grade. That was the first time I remember being aware of politics and of a larger force in our country. Until then I only thought of my immediate family. I did not consider that there were bigger rules and a bigger society.
I was impressed by the words of this powerful man. I believed what he said and trusted his judgment. I did not question that he had the best interests of the entire United States of America in his mind when he spoke and when he acted. I TRUSTED him.
For many years after that I trusted the politicians of our country. I knew there were differences in the parties but overall I believed they were honest people and wanted our best interests to prevail.
TRUST….. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It is something we don’t find so easily now. There is too much information being shoved in our faces and most of it is false… lies manufactured to benefit someone else’s agenda. I find it amazing that any person in a position of that much power and trust would be comfortable telling outright lies to the people they have chosen to protect and serve. But power is a strange companion. It asks us to do things we might not otherwise consider.
Lies build walls and make us rebuild them time and time again. Do we need them? What would happen if we did not walk the wall and rebuild it every season? Would it be so terrible if one of us walked in another’s field or talked to the neighbor on the other side?
I don’t believe in walls. I don’t believe in 95% of what I read on the Internet. I do believe in research and doing something I call “turn-it-around.” Turn-it-around means you put on their shoes and see how the world looks to the other person… how they are interpreting what you have just stated to them. It means looking at the world through their eyes. Sounds easy but if you really do it with an honest effort, you will see things that may amaze you. Try it.
And think about that wall….