Kill Cliches -- "Mending Wall" by Robert Essay

Pages: 3 (1159 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

¶ … Kill Cliches -- "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost and "Dulce et Decorum est" by Wilfred Owens.

Perhaps one of the most useful aspects of modern poetry as a literary medium is that poetry has the unique ability to take the words of a cliche and can deploy the intense language of the poetic medium and force readers to reconsider that cliche in a new light. Both "Dulce et Decorum est" by Wilfred Owens and "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost take common sense phrases that 'everyone' -- supposedly knows to be true. But both of these poets used language, the poetic speaker's unique perspective on his situation, and powerful images to undercut such accepted moral tropes.

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In the case of the American New Englander Robert Frost, the cliche his poem "Mending Wall" attacks is "Good Fences make Good Neighbors." The speaker, the poet, is a farmer. He and his neighbor are engaged in what seems to be a common, annual act of mending the fences of their farms. The poem, like Owens' "Dulce et Decorum est," is located in a very specific place and time, that of Boston, 1915 in the case of Frost. But during this common act of a very specific time and place, Frost achieves a new perspective on the life of a terse, New England farmer. The poet wonders if there is 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." Frost attributes a kind of mysterious power to nature, a power that wishes to attack the artificial walls human beings set up between themselves, to demarcate one area of nature as their and another area as not theirs.

Essay on Kill Cliches -- "Mending Wall" by Robert Assignment

Unlike hunters and dogs, the repairs Frost makes, to his fancy, seem inexplicable. Also, the repairs to the fences are ineffectual: "We have to use a spell to make them balance: / 'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'" Frost writes of the rocks his neighbor and he put up to block the cracks. Yet the neighbor the poet speaks to during this spring mending time stubbornly insists 'Good fences make good neighbors' even though "My apple trees will never get across / and eat the cones under his pines." Clearly, Frost suggests, something deeper is at stake in the clinging to the need for fences, in the absence of cows. But the specificity of the acts and references delineated in this description of spring "mending time" make the scenario seem real to the reader, as well as the speaker's questioning of the cliche that people must be fenced off from one another, both in terms of property and emotion, that people must be walled in and walled out from one another lest they come into conflict.

Ultimately, the neighbor is impenetrable, but the act of writing the poem for the author is cathartic and causes the reader, if not the neighbor to question his "father's saying," stalking the wood like a savage. The poet uses his own life and his own imaginary and real argumentation to show that the neighbor is wrong. In "Dulce et Decorum est," like Frost, Wilfred Owens specifically and explicitly questions a common cliche in his poem. Frost wishes he could argue with his neighbor as he argues with himself, and by extension the reader: "I wonder / if I could put a notion in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Kill Cliches -- "Mending Wall" by Robert.  (2005, April 19).  Retrieved September 26, 2020, from

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"Kill Cliches -- "Mending Wall" by Robert."  19 April 2005.  Web.  26 September 2020. <>.

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"Kill Cliches -- "Mending Wall" by Robert."  April 19, 2005.  Accessed September 26, 2020.