Mending Wall

Original Text: 
Robert Frost, North of Boston, 2nd edn. (New York: Henry Holt, 1915), pp. 11-13. PS 3511 R94N6 ROBA.
2That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
3And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
4And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
5The work of hunters is another thing:
6I have come after them and made repair
7Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
8But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
9To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
10No one has seen them made or heard them made,
11But at spring mending-time we find them there.
12I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
13And on a day we meet to walk the line
14And set the wall between us once again.
15We keep the wall between us as we go.
16To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
17And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
18We have to use a spell to make them balance:
19"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
20We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
21Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
22One on a side. It comes to little more:
23There where it is we do not need the wall:
24He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
25My apple trees will never get across
26And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
27He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
28Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
29If I could put a notion in his head:
30"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
31Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
32Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
33What I was walling in or walling out,
34And to whom I was like to give offence.
35Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
36That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
37But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
38He said it for himself. I see him there
39Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
40In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
41He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
42Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
43He will not go behind his father's saying,
44And he likes having thought of it so well
45He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."


1] Frost notes in North of Noston that this poem "takes up the theme where A Tuft of Flowers in A Boy's Will [his first volume of poems, published in 1913] laid it down." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.