The “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost is forty five lines long and is structured into a single paragraph verse. There are no stanzas and visually looks like and metaphorical represents a wall. Frost’s writes this poem in first person with the use of “I” which makes the poem narrative – as if the narrator is speaking directly to the reader. The intimate conversation happening between the narrator and the reader is further supported by the use of presence tense in the text of the poem and the casual speech of the narrator. The “Mending Wall” is literally about a physical wall that lies between his far and his neighbors farm.
The narrator walks along the decaying wall describing in detail the nature and structure of the wall. He often compares the wall to himself and his neighbor. The narrator ponders again and again “what makes good neighbors”. The narrator plays with the idea that perhaps the wall between their farms is the key to a great relationship. This implies that for people to maintain a safe and proper relationship they must be isolate from each other. Through the use of vivid imagery Frost explores how people relate to each other and suffer through isolation. The central image in the “Mending Wall” is the wall itself.
As the wall decays, the narrator and his neighbor repair, which maintains their relationship. However, the wall is also used by Frost as an symbol. The wall symbolism the metaphoric wall which human build to keep themselves safe and other out. Frost asserts that “There were it is we do not need the wall” (23) implying that while emotional wall exists, they are not needed. He believes that “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (1). Narrator cleverly explores that idea that if people were truthful with themselves they would have to confess they do not like the wall which separates one life from another.
Perhaps this is the reason for the falling stones and the constant decay of the wall over time. Frost has the unique ability to bring together metaphysical thought and the beautiful New England landscape in rhyming text. There are several minor images within the poem which add to the mood and tone of the poem. The setting of the poem is springtime and can be seen in “frozen ground swell” (2), “spring mending time” (11), “in the sun” (3), and “spring is the mischief in me” (28). Spring is the time when life begins anew and there is great hope for the future.
Frost, through the use of imagery, explores the theme of human isolation and asserts that “walls”, emotional or physical, need not exist. That “something” in the universe hates these walls and actively works to destroy them which is why the physical wall in the poem is in need of constant repair. Through the narrator’s casual speech, Frost advices the reader that perhaps he or she should take into consideration the subtle hints and let the walls between human souls be destroyed.
Frost, Robert. “The Mending Wall” Literature and the Writing Process. Comp. Elizabeth McHahan. New York: Prentice-Hall , 2005. 449.