Windham Life & Times – February 24, 2017

100 Year Ago in Windham | W.S. Harris | Exeter Newsletter

A tall stone wall divides a field on Dinsmoor Hill, Windham with Canobie lake in background.

A tall stone wall divides a field on Dinsmoor Hill, Windham with Canobie Lake in background.

ROBERT FROST’S “NORTH OF BOSTON” PUBLISHED.

“WINDHAM, February 27.— Among the books lately added to the town library is ‘North of Boston’ by Robert Frost, who was known to some in town when he lived in Derry and was a teacher at Pinkerton Academy. These writings have a certain picturesque flavor and a crude rhythm, but probably we are too far from Boston culture to understand what is gained by stretching the definition of poetry sufficiently to cover writings like these.” I looked through “North of Boston” to find a poem, and I must agree with Will Harris that much of it is a little boring and idyllic, but in “Mending Walls” there is perhaps something worthwhile to be found. It is especially relevant in showing what has been lost over the past 100 years, where now it seems that for many Americans, that walls of all kinds should be torn down. The poem shows the wisdom of borders and separation, and how the division line actually brings those that are separated by it closer together, because of the security of knowing the rules of the divide and because on each side of the wall, one has the freedom to privately live life as one wishes, without being subjected to the meddling of others. It seems, “the poet,” Robert Frost advocates for their destruction. Have his ideals won?

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 outdoor 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.’

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s