Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Good fences Make Good Neighbors

In the poem Mending Wall, Robert Frost seems to question whether good fences make good neighbors.  I, on the other hand, don’t question the concept at all.  Considering my current living situation, good fences do make good neighbors.  To build upon the good fence idea, we added a privet hedge as reinforcement. 

Unfortunately,  my neighbors and I don’t see eye to eye—well, we can’t with this hedge in between.  That’s the point.  Even though I had Benjamin Franklin’s support—“Love your neighbor; yet don’t pull down your hedge”—they still balk at the rightness of it.  To my neighbors, my lovely green hedge is an eyesore; its branches poke through their fence, it encroaches on their territory.  It must come down—if not by me, they’ll poison it.  They’ve done it before.

So tear down the privet with its added cloak of privacy, we must.  With its absence, no doubt, will come accidental eye contact and an increased dislike on our part for their pit bull.

Good fences make good neighbors, it is true.  But only if they’re ten feet high.

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost
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.”

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