About Me

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I am a retired English teacher and department head, the mother of three, grand mother of three, and have been married to the same man for 42 years. I subscribe to Dr. PM Forni's concept of Civility. I was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in the 'burbs. I love soft pretzels and cheesesteaks, the Phillies, the Eagles, and San Diego. I love being Mom, Aunt Kathy, Nona Kathy, and Teacher. I spend a lot of time in my gardens in the spring and summer, and in the winter I plan what I'm going to plant. I also am an avid reader and photographer.


Monday, October 18, 2010

"We keep the wall between us as we go..."

Yesterday we visited our youngest at her new home in Virginia Horse Country. All along the roads were fences like this;

all reminding me of Frost's poem and the line, "Good fences make good neighbors" said in total ignorance of why the fence exists in the first place -- perhaps a statement about mindless traditions?  Here is Frost's poem, "Mending Wall".  Discussion with tea and scones at my place.

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 neighbor 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 neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? 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 offense.
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 neighbors."


Linda Reeder said...

I love this poem now but I didn't understand it until I traveled to New England and saw the stone fences. Dry stacked, they are forever in need of repair. Why are they there? To mark the boundries, of course! Then you always know on who's land you stand! Good fences make good neighbors.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I love that poem, Kathy.... I remember studying it many many years ago when I was in school.... Those fences you pictured are inviting... We are not allowed to have fences in our community... I sorta like that because when we lived in Texas, everyone had a huge wooden fence separating their property.

Have a great week.

Cheryl said...

I too love the stone fences of New England. I love the poem despite the fact that poetry is not my forte. I love scones too but less so now that I know the calorie count :)

George said...

Thanks for sharing this poem with us. I've always liked it and it has been too long since I read it. Your picture is wonderful. I'd love to be there for discussion, tea and scones.

Gilly said...

I've tried three times to write a comment, and each time I try to gie a link to somewhere, everything disappears. Here's trying again!

Here in the north of the UK, we have walls, not hedges. Dry stone walls, beautifully made, and most of them still standing, although some are in disrepiar. And who wants them - farmers of course! No farmer wants his sheep mixing in with other sheep, and his prize ewes mating with some manky ram who fancies his chance! All the fields round here are bounded by stone walls.

The way they are made differs from area to area, depending on what type of stone is available. But basically, the walls are made in the same way, two outer walls sloping inwards, the space jammed and rammed full of smaller stones, and the top finished off in whatever style is local to that area.

I will have to type the link in: http://www.britainexpress.com?History/drystone.htm

Its worth a look.

Boundaries, too are very important. Moving a boundary stone brought severe punishment in Old Testament times. After all, is theft of another's land when you do that!

And when you've paid h*** of a lot for your land, you don't want some other chancer claiming a bit of yours!

Don't think the poet really knew what fences are for.

But I fancy tea and scones, please!

Bilbo said...

It's been years since I'd read that poem, and I'm reminded again of how much I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing...

Maggie said...

Great shot. I lived in Virginia for a number of years and don't remember seeing that combination of fence and wall. :)

And too, I've always liked that poem. Thanks for waking up that corner of my brain.