Blog, poetry

Fences Make Good Neighbors

Day 126

IMG_8546As we did our morning walk I noticed that most of my neighbors have fences along the roadway. It is a small road, not heavily traveled by anyone other than those that live here. My mind wandered to a beloved poem by Robert Frost — “Mending Wall”.

This poem is often misunderstood and used to promote the idea that barriers make us good neighbors. I am not going to get political here, but it is a topic often in the news these days.

I often think about how grand this land must have been before mankind decided to parcel it off and separate us from one another. In my little country area, a couple of neighbors have horses, but most do not have livestock of any kind. So I cannot help but wonder why so many fences. They are in constant disrepair much like the fences in Robert Frost’s poem.

We have 3 1/2 acres of land, none of which is fenced. We have a lot of wildlife that traverses our property: black bears, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, wild turkeys, opossums, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice, and so many birds. Fences are not an effective deterrent to many of these creatures. So it must be people we want to keep away.

IMG_8544

Mending Wall
By: Robert Frost

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.”

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7 thoughts on “Fences Make Good Neighbors”

  1. I wonder sometimes if this isn’t just about creating edges and boundaries (a human impulse, for sure), not really about keeping anything out. Thanks for a good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose you are right, Lisa. Most of these fences won’t keep anything or anyone out for sure. A few are well enforced I suppose more to keep something —like a dog — in. Thanks for reading.

      Like

    1. I suppose fences are everywhere. Even in nature. Might be a tree line or a stream or a rock face. I think coyotes would have no trouble crossing most of these barriers. The scenery is lovely here for sure.

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