A reader writes:
I've got to agree with your reader that "Mending Wall" is much more complex than it seems initially. As the title suggests, the act of building the wall may provide a kind of healing that brings the two neighbors together. Frost is tricky because we tend to read his invocations of nature romantically. "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." Nature is the force tearing down this wall, and we like to think that nature is a force for the righteous and the good.
But this isn't the case in the world of Robert Frost. Nature terrifies in "The Hill Wife." It conspires in "Design." It appalls in "Desert Places." We need those fences and walls to make sense of a desolate, bewildering world. Think of the exquisite, painful line a father utters after he has buried his dead child in "Home Burial": "Three foggy mornings and one rainy day/ Will rot the best birch fence a man can build." Those fences, and the work we put into building them, are our "momentary stay against confusion," a metaphor Frost used to describe the work of poetry. One more lovely line in this regard: "The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows."
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