No Heavy Lifting-Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.
edited: Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By D L Johnson
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2007
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This essay was originally published in Art With Words and has been edited. I should also say that I am in no way an expert on the writings of Robert Frost but have enjoyed his works for many years.
No Heavy Lifting- Good Fences make Good Neighbors
Not long ago a friend of mine sent me three books, one of which was a book of poems written by Robert Frost. This book included many of his most famous poems and some not so well known, but I found a truth in one poem that speaks to every race, every ethnic background and each person of faith, and for me his words spoke of how we spend so much time building fences and isolating ourselves from people and places that in the end means we are more similar than we are different.
When Robert Frost wrote his classic poem “Mending Wall” I was inspired by the single line that is remembered most in this poem, “'Good fences make good neighbours.” I also think there is a marvelous story to be told about the relationship between the neighbors that walked the fence line.
For the sake of clarity, I will refer to one of the neighbor’s as Frost and the other as the neighbor.
Imagine it’s a clear spring day and we have an opportunity to walk with Frost and his neighbor along the fence that is now in tatters and in disrepair, due to a harsh winter. My first image of these two guys is they are wearing boots that will protect them from the mud and soft ground. It’s cool out so they are wearing heavy jackets that will protect them in the event of a sudden drop in temperature, and hats to shield them from the sun or protect them from rain.
They talk as they walk, perhaps about other things besides the fence. Frost might say that he does not like the new legislation being presented in the state house on increased taxation. The neighbor might say that he’s heard about an uproar in Europe about something called Nazism. And he goes on to say that from what he’s heard it does not sound like something he would like in America.
As they continue along the fence line they notice a place where Frost’s cow jumped the fence and went into the neighbor’s garden; much to the displeasure of the neighbor’s wife. Frost says he’ll take care of it first thing in the morning; which he does. As they walk further a tree from the neighbor’s side has fallen and done damage to the fence.
The neighbor looks at the tree and says he’s going to have his man come out in the morning to finish cutting the tree and will be sending along some extra wood for the fireplace. This makes Frost happy.
The two men continue along for another hour or so and talk about many things; some they will agree on and other things that will be saved for further discussion.
There are truths revealed during this afternoon walk. One is that they talk. And that Frost and his neighbor have to work together in mending the wall. In his poem he refers to each of them picking up rocks; some small and others much larger and heavier, requiring both of them to work side by side. I think this is why Frost titled this poem “Mending Wall”
As in so many cases throughout the history of civilization, well intended conversations were held to let one neighbor know what the other was thinking but met with no resolve. This issue then turned to property disputes between neighbors, which then led to outright war. When men stop talking…they build bigger and sometimes impenetrable walls.
Frost and his neighbor saw a greater good by taking a walk along a fence line that had all the earmarks of mending lives as well as fences. These men took the time to reflect on things that matter to them. It is also a time to reconcile differences, which they do and in mending their affairs they in turn reveal the intention that Good Fences do make Good Neighbors.
As we enter 2007 wouldn’t it be wonderful if we as writers took the time to mend the fences that keep us from being the complete person we need to be? Perhaps we need to open doors that have been sealed shut or cross out the lines that have been drawn in the dirt. These are the things that prohibit us from being the writer and person we need to be. I know this applies to my life and I hope to work on this issue myself. How often is it that we work only on half truths, which then makes us less than half right?
If we spend good time in mending the fences of our lives we have also eliminated the process of heavy lifting in being good writers and better neighbors.
Perhaps our leaders in the White House could learn from this experience.
Have a pleasant and successful 2007!
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|Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
|Great write Dan!!
|Reviewed by Rose Rideout
|Well Dan I hope more people read this and heed the message there.Great write.
Thank you Rose
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|When men stop talking…they build bigger and sometimes impenetrable walls.
I'm certain our leaders could learn from this experience, but talking requires listening as well, to the other side of the fence, and that, very sadly, many today simply refuse to do.
|Reviewed by Stan Grimes
|Good write, Dan. It just so happens that "The Mending Wall" is one of my all-time favorite poems. Your perspective on that poem was well thought out and right on.|