Discuss the significant features of Robert Frost’s poetry? Answer with special reference to ‘mending wall’ and ‘birches’
At a time when the most important figures of American poetry shamelessly declared their distaste for metrics and traditional forms, Robert Frost-always on the fringe of Modernist experiments-wrote poems that his contemporaries would have called “antiquated.” to the prosodic integrity of poetry, Frost renounced the proliferation of free verse, that way “of playing tennis without using red.” The poem “mending the Wall” -the one that best captures the poetic art of Frost- makes an allusion (when compare the mending of the wall with a country game) to this metaphor.
In the poem, the narrator (presumably Frost himself) meets with his neighbor to mending, as every spring, the wall in the dividing line of property. There is something that is not friend of the walls, the narrator tells us in the first line of the poem, and then the same narrator tries to persuade his neighbor of the uselessness of that ritual that brings them together: the wall would be useful if one of the neighbors I had cows, for example, but that is not the case. Also, there is something that is not a friend of the walls, something that is responsible for insulting them every winter. The neighbor, on two separate occasions, only responds “good wall, good neighbor” and continues with the ceremonial ritual of mending the wall.
Of course, the above summary does not do justice to the narrative richness of the poem, but the essential thing, for the purpose of pointing out possible interpretations, is that there are two neighbors who meet sporadically in the dividing line of the properties and give themselves ( in a somewhat ceremonious way) to the task of mending the wall that separates them. For the modernist sensibility, interested in the erosion of borders and in the inclusion of what had previously been excluded, the idea that attention to borders is essential to cultivate satisfactory relationships is quite conservative, especially if the emphasis falls on the borders between the social categories of the time. The poem, by the way, recognizes that borders are problematic: the narrator says “you have to ask yourself / whom you are going to include, who to exclude, / and who can end up with an upset.” However, if you look at it with A psychological rather than a sociological lens, the idea that mending borders is a way of addressing the integrity of human relationships is certainly very sensible.