Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

To Mend the wall or Not to ?!

Last night we had a rainstorm and the outcome, an old section of the wall fencing the backside of our fields had come down. Interestingly, it was pointed out to us by the neighbours as their Alsatian had tried to jump over the rubble. 

On seeing the mess left behind, what came forefront to my mind were two things: first the amount of work to repair it and second, do we really need to keep a wall or instead make do with a fence. Oh yes, there are differences between both, primarily that a wall is completely solid and secondly, it is a more tedious task rebuilding one. 

This little incident brought my thoughts to Robert Frost, “Mending Wall” and the following conversation was running in my mind.

“Do we need walls ? Oh yes, especially for the farms and fields,we need them. Not in the suburbs though, too much of a hassle. Trouble can always jump over a wall !!

“And the metaphorical walls ? The walls surrounding our heart and our mind, what about them ? The hearts need walls to protect us from the sorrows but the mind, we miss out on life we are stuck behind the mental walls.

“And the spiritual walls ? There can be no walls in our relationship with the Lord, for He knows all.

This begs the question of whether the walls were built to keep good neighbours or keep us walled in ? And here I am speaking of metaphorical walls. If it was the latter, the purpose is for what. Do we need boundaries for our homes and hearts to protect us or to keep us from experiencing the world ?

Robert Frost had written about “mending walls” and the realities surrounding it. I had read his piece in my high school classes. This time I tried reading it again and a whole lot of different perspectives were brought to light.

The certainty that we do need them in certain facets and the reality of what we may be missing if we lived a life without walls. The hard truth lies in where we erect them: surrounding us or within us and why do we need them: to protect or to hide. 

“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.”


Step back and look at the bigger picture.

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