The Mending Wall is a poem that revolves around the saying, “Good fences make good neighbors,” as stated in the 27th line. The speaker and his neighbor, both separated by a wall made of stone, are the main protagonists in the poem. The poem itself is a setting where both the speaker and his neighbor record one of their rare instances of meeting one another – during spring, a time when they make repair on their sides of the wall together (Holland 365-385). A thorough reading of the poem would bring one to realize that the speaker is highly unconvinced as to why the wall dividing him from his neighbor is even necessary at all. Progressively, the speaker engages his neighbor towards his thoughts against the wall. However, the speaker fails to convince his neighbor, who then just keeps on raising his interest towards the tradition brought forth by the wall. Such leads the speaker to think of his neighbor as someone who is stuck in the past (Holland 365-385). The building of walls is the single controversy in The Mending Wall, where Frost poetically engages two kinds of people – a wall-breaker and a wall-builder. The wall, given its significance as a symbolism for protection, may come to mean as a mechanism against efforts to foster socialization, given the demeanor of the speaker to his neighbor in the poem. Notably, the speaker implies that the wall may not be needed by his neighbor if it is just for him, hence his efforts to build rapport, but he also implies that “Where there are no cows,” as said in the 31st line, a wall may actually be needed. The use of terms like “elves” and “spells” and the rather old-fashioned manner of the neighbor in building the wall sort of reflects the practice of wall-building as an archaic one – something Frost himself might convey as a proposition of the speaker. In saying that “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” repeated two times in the poem on the 1st and 35th lines, the speaker may have been designed by Frost to serve as a strong agent of wall-breaking (Holland 365-385).
The Road Not Taken
Perhaps one of the most popular poems by Frost, The Road Not Taken features the main character as a traveler confronted with a dilemma in the form of a fork in the road. The traveler, knowing that he has to choose just one from the two roads at the fork, eventually makes his choice but swore to himself that he will take the other one someday. However, the traveler himself is realistic to the extent that he does not really expect that he will ever get the chance to revisit the fork and take the road he did not travel on. Given that realization, the traveler made it a point to claim that he “took the road less traveled,” as indicated in the 19th line (Waggoner 207-223). Frost, through the poem, presented a classic dilemma encountered by most people, which leads them to think to themselves, “what if I took the other road instead?” Decision-making is the focus of Frost in the poem, with consequent relief and regret following the outcomes of every decisions. Recognizing decision-making as an integral part of life, Frost uses the traveler as a representation of a typical person bracing himself for regret in the event his decision does not work well for him, through the act of creating an alternative scenario, as can be seen in what the traveler said in the last stanza (Waggoner, 207-223).
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Frost has expressed his penchant for simplicity in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, given that its literal focus revolves around the main character, a traveler with a horse in tow, stopping by the woods on an evening full of snow. The traveler is very much attracted to the woods, given the silence it reeks, but in the end he urged himself to make the move after concerns over duties that he still needs to finish, which he has expressed repetitively, “and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep,” on the 15th and 16th lines of the poem (Baym 713-723). It is important to note that the woods, among other things in the poem, is of great significance to the traveler, to the extent that he stayed by it while he is on his journey amidst the other obligations he has yet to do that time. The woods may be viewed as an area that belongs to the wilderness, farm from the touch of civilization and a place where several risks await the uninitiated visitor. The assistance provided by the horse to the traveler relates to its status as a domesticated animal and thus the only remaining tinge of civilization in the scenario. Therefore, it can be said that the traveler has an apparent desire to explore what lies beyond civilization – the woods, that is, although the sight of his horse perhaps reminded him of the fact that he has yet to attend to more important things ahead of him (Baym 713-723).
Baym, Nina. "An Approach to Robert Frost's Nature Poetry." American Quarterly 17.4 (1965): 713-723. Print.
Holland, Norman. "The Brain of Robert Frost." New Literary History 15.2 (1984): 365-385. Print.
Waggoner, Hyatt. "The Humanistic Idealism of Robert Frost." American Literature 13.3 (1941): 207-223. Print.