Robert Frost

How many poets does it take to change a light bulb?
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Minstrel
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Robert Frost

Post by Minstrel » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:26 am

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.”

Charles
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Post by Charles » Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:37 pm

Ended up answering a question in my English AS on this one, so forgive me if I'd rather not talk about it too much! :wink:

It's a very interesting meditation on tradition and division, I like the fact that Frost was quite playful with this one, with the references to a game and of course the unforgivable "offence" :o . It undercuts the serious image of the wall the solid block of text conveys, which is rather interesting. Or maybe it's the solid block of text that is undercutting the playfulness? Well, not so much undercutting as lending the whole thing a more ominous tone. (Dang it! That's a really good point, why couldn't I have thought of that in the exam! :mrgreen: )

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Post by Minstrel » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:58 pm

Not sure of your take on it Charles, interesting though.

' 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. '

Ominous indeed. Great piece of imagery. I just love the conversational tone and simply use of everyday language he uses in this poem. As he probably did in most of his poems. The imagery just puts me there with him. I mean he doesn't even mention smell, but I know how it smells. Ok, its a pine forest so no great stretch of the nasal imagination....but the fact is, I want to smell it...and the cow shit from his neighbours field..(or should that be bullshit)...no, its definately cow shit(there is a difference). The smell of apples actually makes me feel sleepy since I read 'after apple picking'!

Anyroad, as you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of monsieur Frost
so cheers for bumping this one up.

Charles
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Post by Charles » Thu Dec 14, 2006 12:04 am

Yes, I agree wonderful imagery, you see that all through Frost.

I also love that ending because of a shift in tone FROM the conversational language. I think it starts at "But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather/ He said it for himself. I see him there" from there it goes suddenly serious, the chattiness disappears quite suddenly. Wonderfully effective - I can practically see the darkness closing in around the stone armed savage...

Contrast to the begging too, which talks of the "sun" where the boulders have fallen. Great stuff.

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Post by twoleftfeet » Sat Dec 16, 2006 11:36 am

His rhythms flow like music.
I always enjoy his poems for that reason even when I don't "get" them.

I feel sure that someone who spoke not a word of English could learn to
pick out Frost's poems from the works of others .

Geoff

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