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During the twentieth century there were poets who revolutionized poetry such as T. S. Elliot and Ernest Hemingway. Of all the American poets in the twentieth century, there was not a poet that was more popular or established then Robert Frost. Robert Frost was the most influential poet in the twentieth century because of his use of lyrics and metaphors in his poems. Robert Frost overcame many hardships and tragedies in his life to write some of America’s best-loved poems. In Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” he uses symbols and metaphors to convey the meaning of the wall, which shows the “constant tension of the opposing elements”(Barry 111), man faces in everyday life.

Robert Frost was said to be a “whole hearted writer, who assigned poetry many things, which other men enshrine in a personal religion or philosophy”(Jennings 3). He was born on March 26, 1874 to Isabelle and William Prescott Frost, Jr. When Frost was eleven years of age his father died of tuberculosis. After dropping out of school several times, Frost ended up declining to enroll at Harvard and ended up attending Dartmouth College. After only a semester at college, Frost left Dartmouth and became engaged to his future wife, Eleanor. Frost won the Pulitzer prize four times and was part of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Frost always believed that writing poems in lyric was “the most essential characteristic because of its musicality and its musical effects by traditional techniques of meter, rhyme, and stanzaic patterning”(Barry 21). Frost also believed in using a lot of metaphors in his poetry because he felt “that metaphors were a prism that takes raw enthusiasm and spreads it on a screen, so that it seems more than just a feeling, but also a matter of perception”(Barry 82). His views and ideas on poetry helped pave the way for other poets to follow.

In Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” he uses a stone wall as a symbol of two different attitudes that are displayed between the narrator and his neighbor. The poem’s theme is somewhat playful, but is however serious at times. In the first line of the poem, the reader can tell that he is not to fond of the stone wall that is in front of him because he says that “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”(1). The next few lines of the poem indicate the structure of the wall and how it looks under the sunlight. The next three lines of the poem describe how he is fed up with the hunters that mess up the stones while they are hunting. In line six, he states that “he has come after them and made repair/ Where they have left not one stone on a stone”(6-7). The hunters mess up the wall because they are in search of rabbits that might be hiding under them. In line ten, the narrator mentions the gaps that are made in the wall by the hunters. Frost uses an excellent example of a metaphor because in line eleven he says, “at spring mending-time we find them there. In this line he compares the season of spring, which is known to be the time when things grow and replenish themselves, to the wall and how he is replenishing the wall by fixing the stones. In line twelve, he tells his neighbor that he is going to fix the wall. In the next few lines the narrator gives the impression that the neighbor is helping fix the wall that has been disheveled. Frost uses another metaphor in line eighteen when he compares a “spell” to his method of getting the rocks to balance on each other. He reinstates his playful theme in line nineteen when he says “Stay where you are until our backs are turned(19)! The narrator’s hands our bothered by handing the stones and he compares piling the stones to an “outdoor game”(21). Almost is if he is saying that he is in competition with his neighbor to see who can balance more stones. In the next few lines the narrator again displays his dismay of having the wall between him and his neighbor. He says that “his neighbor is all pine and he is all apple orchard”(23). The narrator asks his neighbor the question of why do they need a wall between them considering all they do is separate the apple from the pine? His neighbors response to that is “that good fences make good neighbors”(27). The conversation between the narrator and the neighbor is an example of dramatic monologue. This puzzles the narrator for the rest of the poem because he does not understand why someone would want to be “walled in” or “walled out.”

This question the narrator has develops the whole theme of conflicting attitudes between neighbors. The idea of the wall that is put up throughout the poem is a reflection of the poet. During Frost’s lifetime he had to put up a variety of walls in order to get through the many tragedies he was faced with. Frost also set up a wall when he was asked to write a poem about the United Nations. Frost declined to write the poem because he felt that “absolute harmony was not possible”(Barry 111). He believed that there was no way everyone could possibly be together on every issue. This was an excellent example of how the wall that affected the narrator, was a symbol to show how we set up walls to protect us from other’s beliefs or values.

Throughout our lives, we will be put in situations that require us to put up walls to protect our own values or beliefs. Robert Frost took issues that affected the public, and put them in to poetry. The playful theme of the poem allowed the reader to relate with what the narrator was going through with the neighbor. Frost’s use of symbols and metaphors allowed the reader to find the hidden meanings that were conveyed in the text. His use of dramatic monologue made the poem more enjoyable and realistic. Robert Frost displayed in this poem many characteristics of wonderful poetry.


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