September 24, 2023

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”

So wrote  Robert Frost of his New England neighbor and their spring ritual to walk and repair the stone wall separating their properties.

“To each the boulders that have fallen to each,” he wrote:

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.”

Nope. Mr. Frost’s neighbor doesn’t buy it, keeps on picking up the rocks on his side, replacing them. And Mr. Frost concludes:

            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.”