“Good fences makes good neighbors,” is a small portion from the Mending Wall written by one of modern times most proficient writers, Robert Frost. Two of the critical articles I examined were quite helpful in gaining a better understanding of the “Mending Wall” and also of Robert Frost’s poetry. The Gale Research shows the best and most effective understanding of the “Mending Wall,” mainly because it deals specifically with that poem. It basically states that the poem is built around two attitudes, that of the speaker, which the Gale critic presumes is the poet, who is imaginative and an independent thinker and that of the neighbor, who prefers not to question anything (Gale). The other article deals more with other poetry that Robert Frost has written and helps explain common themes. One critic states that Frost’s poetry contains a theme of nature and mankind being one entity (Wagner 12).
According to the Gale Research article, the poet is describing the relationship between the two different men who have the same common interest in repairing the wall. It goes on explaining how they walk on each of their sides of the wall, picking up stones and replacing the oddly shaped and shattered ones. It shows the mental differences between the speaker and the neighbor by stating that the speaker, the more imaginary one, wanted to use a spell to fix the oddly shaped stones, while the more down to earth one wanted to use his hands and labor (Gale).
This basically shows the two types of people, those who like to dream and those who like to work. The Gale Research article continues by saying the wall bothers the poet, believing it to be unnecessary. The article goes on by elaborating the poet’s feelings saying the wall divides the speakers apple trees from the neighbors pine trees. The conclusion I receive when I read this portion of the article is the poet feels that the wall is binding the relationship between the two men and without it would increase their friendship, while the neighbor likes to keep his thoughts t himself allowing privacy to exist. My own belief sway more towards that of the neighbor, privacy allows for good neighbors, hence the statement “Good fences make good neighbors,” which is expressed in the poem.
In the book “Critical Reception,” the author, Linda W. Wagner, writes several articles of her opinion on some of Robert Frost’s work. I found “Critical Reception” very helpful in understanding “Mending Wall” because it gave me an insight on Frost’s style and similar themes in his poetry. I concluded that Robert Frost, in some of his works including “Mending Wall,” was a poet fascinated by the mind and by very earthly objects; dealing with how people felt about life in conjunction with the environment. For example, in the poem “Sand Dunes,” Frost describes the sea and a woman, who in actuality is the sand dune. He transforms the sand dune into a person by referring to the dune as a she (Wagner 72).
Some of Frost’s works share this theme of making nature into a person, which is something I found quite interesting, to consider a rock a man or a sand dune a woman.
Wagner states that one of Robert Frost’s best attributes is his ability to use words in a matter that he can paint a very vivid and detailed picture for the reader. Robert Frost being a modern poet allows for people of current times to relate and grasp an understanding of his poetry, which in fact is in a tone were I could follow. Wagner also states that Frost’s poetry deals with the earth and the thoughts and emotions of the Earth. This is best demonstrated in the poem “Spring Pools,” were Frost expresses his subtle depths of compassion with his way to make things more extraordinary beautiful (Wagner 79).
Describing people and nature as in a manner to make them relate to each other is something that Robert Frost even expresses in the “Mending Wall.” The wall is something that basically is a psychological blockade, which allows people to not push their own ideas on the other, created by nature to enforce privacy. This idea can also best express the relationship between modern society and how each person is encased in their own mind, and by placing actual fences outside the realm of the mind, they can isolate themselves within their own minds and domains.
In conclusion, these two literary critical articles were very helpful in understanding the “Mending Wall” and other Robert Frost literary pieces. The articles were helpful because both gave an insight on how Robert Frost’s works were very elaborate and detailed to the point that you can understand the emotion behind his pieces. All of the qualities I have pointed out among others have recognized Frost as one of the best authors or modern times. “Good fences make good neighbors,” a statement more true today because of the binds and boundaries built by race, religion and other factors.
“Mending Wall.” Literature Resource Center. Gale Research, 1999.
Wagner, Linda W. Robert Frost: The Critical Reception. Boston: Franklin, 1977.