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Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall” and Current Political Significance in the US and the World.


Credit: http://www.darkmediaonline.com

Since the beginning of the campaign in the US for the final Republican and Democratic nominees, I haven’t been able to get this poem out of my head. Perhaps I had such a wonderful professor for American Poetry that Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall,” made such an impression on me.

Thirteen years after I’ve graduated, I still think about this poem and what wisdom Frost imparts to people in his own time and ours. Mainly he suggests his poem is less about literal walls or fences, but about how neighbors should treat each other. Whether you’ve read the poem or not, you may find certain correlations between Frost’s poem and the current political situation in the US.

I think the biggest issue Frost’s poem highlights is why we build walls in the first place. The line at the beginning of the poem: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” implies not all of us enjoy having walls between us and our neighbors (1). Frost isn’t merely talking about physical walls or fences but about the walls that exist in relationships between people.

It’s practical and helpful for to us to avoid petty arguments by having physical fences around our yards. But Frost suggests in “The Mending Wall,” it is not helpful at all, to have walls and distance between people and their relationships with one another. This can cause large rifts between people when they don’t agree or share a similar opinion. Communication and negotiation need to be encouraged, instead of building bigger walls. We forget many other people in this world are the same as us, going through similar trials. It doesn’t matter their religion or ethnicity, we’re all human.

Open communication and friendly communication is a necessary key to life. While physically we may have to “set the wall between us once again,” or have certain boundaries, I don’t recall stone walls every setting to right differences of opinion or thought (14). We can’t stop talking because we don’t agree, reaching for the best compromise available is vital.

Erecting a wall between the US and Mexico will affect US relationships with other nations, not only Mexico. It also makes the US government appear isolationist. Moreover, it affects other countries who would think it was okay to support their own selfish ideologies which are not democratic.

Isolationist countries and governments do not prosper in themselves or in helping their citizens prosper. In today’s world it is critical for us all to have open communication and at times compromise and not always get ‘our own way’ with other countries for the good of all; the current US government goes against this globalized view. Trump stands for himself and if you’re a lucky American who supports a view he does, he might stand for you too. But it’s not something I would count on in a person who is extremely unpredictable.

In Frost’s poem, the lines: “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,” show the utter absurdity of having such a thick solid wall between the narrator and his neighbor (23-27). Frost’s point in these lines is if the speaker and his neighbor acted neighborly, they wouldn’t require a fence between them. It’s absurd to have a wall between them because the narrator’s apples don’t eat his neighbor’s pine cones and vice versa. The neighbor lacks insight into the situation.

He is similar to Trump who wants a wall between the US and Mexico beyond the border which already exists. Trump is akin to the neighbor insisting ” . . . good fences make good neighbors.” Truly walls break down relations between people and invite people to spew hatred and feel they are entitled to act badly and Trump’s actions are encouraging this behavior (27). People have choices to act how their conscience tells them, but when the government decides on input-less actions that destroy relations with other parts of the world and with US citizens, this government is self-serving.

Frost’s speaker also wonders about this wall he and his neighbor always fix in spring. He asks “. . . why do [fences] make good neighbors . . . ” commenting that “[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 offense” (32-34). For me, these lines are shockingly apt in current US politics.

In Robert Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall,” the wall is not only a physical wall/fence it’s symbolic of relations between neighbors and metaphorical walls between people, in a broader sense, all sovereign nations. Trump insists on building a wall because it will wall out drugs from entering the US. He also believes he is keeping out illegal immigrates as well as crime. I think Frost would say, Trump is missing the bigger picture.

To my knowledge, Obama never had outstanding issues with Mexico. Most of us are aware of the drugs going back and forth across the border from Mexico and the people who want to leave Mexico for a better life. I would argue as many have, one way or another, the immigrants who want to get through are going to find a way through.

We also know for a fact, there are already tunnels to bring drugs into the US. If Trump wants to stop drug cartels from selling drugs, maybe he should focus on his own citizens involved in the purchase and selling of drugs. If you take away the market, perhaps you stop drug trafficking; however, my hunch is if Mexico sells fewer drugs, those who want or need drugs, will find another source.

Additionally, Frost’s line about giving “offense” is relatable to Trump not caring what Mexico thinks about the wall (34). He wants to make them pay for it and he doesn’t care that their President refused. He offended Mexico and its citizens; hopefully, he doesn’t plan on vacationing there anytime soon as many US citizens like to do. He’s going to make it difficult for US citizens wanting to vacation in Mexico and other places around the world in general. I’ve meant many wonderful American citizens on vacations but I know there are places where they still have to wear a Canadain flag on their outfit, so they are not thought be Americans. I would hate for this to be worse because of current affairs.

He’s going to make it difficult for US citizens wanting to vacation in Mexico and other places around the world in general. I’ve met many wonderful American citizens on vacations but I know there are places where they still have to wear a Canadain flag on their outfit, so they are not thought be Americans because it would be dangerous to them or their cash supply. I would hate for this to be worse because of current affairs in the US.

As well, Trump offended the Mexican President who refused to visit the US after Trump announced the wall. He’s set back relations with his physical and symbolic wall with Mexico. I believe US dealings with other countries will suffer setbacks as well because I think other nations will see US actions and be less inclined to trust their government and Trump.

The most curious part to me is how one man can destroy relations with other countries around the word so quickly through his lack of diplomacy and unwillingness to cooperate. I don’t want the US, Canada, or anywhere to be larger targets for radical terrorists or desperate criminals because Trump is blocking people from migrating to the US from the Middle East. Many people there are like us, regular people who don’t deserve to be labeled terrorists due to their religion. Some of those people require help due to actual terrorists such as ISIS, who are making it difficult for them to meet their basic needs.

Frost also writes in his poem about those who don’t love walls and would like them down. His narrator sees no need for the wall and thinks he could tell his neighbor, “‘I could say “Elves” to him, / [but] it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather / [he] said it for himself (35 – 38). Frost implies the neighbor needs to recognize for himself and ‘say’ for himself, that the physical and metaphorical wall between them is absurd. 

I think the same principles apply to Trump and his wall. The wall is a thoughtless law as well as the symbolic breaking down of US relations with other countries such as Mexico and realistically, several others. The current US President won’t ever admit he is wrong.

In the end, I find the situation with Trump and the US government much the same as Frost describes the neighbour in his poem: “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 (40 – 42). To the narrator of Frost’s poem, rebuilding the wall between his neighbour and him is a game.

He even wonders if he could put “a notion” in his neighbours head and say “[elves]” made the stones fall out of place (29,37). But to the neighbour such as the US government, this is no game. While the rest of us mock Trump and have “mischief” in us as we read daily what Trump’s decided to do now, we are also somewhat afraid.

Trump walks around as Frost’s speaker’s neighbor, “an old-stone savage armed . . . [moving] in darkness . . . (40-41). This darkness is as an ignorance and not only of “woods . . . and the shade of trees (42).” I cannot imagine all the duties a President has; however, I do know about starting a new job as I’m sure many people can relate to.

Often, it is best to let things be done the way they have been done, to learn the experience and the wisdom behind the methods people use currently, before implementing massive change. At times, we think our own way of doing something is better. Then one day it hits us why something was done a certain way, how much easier it is to keep doing it that particular way. Once you learn how things are done, then changes can be implemented with reason and with experience behind that reasoning.

With US relations with its own citizens and the citizens of the world, we can only hope Trump ends his walk in darkness and ignorance. Perhaps one day he will step into the light and see why past Presidents acted how they did in certain matters? That he was elected by citizens and speaks and acts for them.

It’s my hope he searches beyond his own experience, what he’s been able to do freely as wealthy and powerful man. I hope he listens to the people who elected him and acts with discernment, that he learns to think before he acts. One encouraging thing about Trump I did hear was his admiration of Winston Churchill.

In conclusion, Frost calls his poem “The Mending Wall” because he hopes each year relations with his neighbour will improve, that eventually they won’t need a wall between them. Can we hope this much of the new US government? That they will not build walls to isolate their country? That they will not only think about themselves in this diverse, multicultural, and globalized world? I hope so. I’d hope Trump eventually learns to mend relations with his neighbours and not to snub them or God forbid, cause war. I hope he learns to see beyond the saying, ” . . . [good] fences make good neighbours” (45).


The Mending Wall

By Robert Frost

*****
1. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

2. That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
3. And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

4. And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

5. The work of hunters is another thing:

6. I have come after them and made repair

7. Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

8. But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

9. To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

10. No one has seen them made or heard them made,

11. But at spring mending-time we find them there.

12. I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;

13. And on a day we meet to walk the line

14. And set the wall between us once again.

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

16. To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

17. And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

18. We have to use a spell to make them balance:

19. “Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”

20. We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

21. Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

22. One on a side. It comes to little more:

23. There where it is we do not need the wall:

24. He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

25. My apple trees will never get across

26. And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

27. He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

28. Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

29. If I could put a notion in his head:

30. “Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it

31. Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

32. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

33. What I was walling in or walling out,

34. And to whom I was like to give offence.

35. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

36. That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,

37. But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

38. He said it for himself. I see him there

39. Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

40. In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

41.He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

42. Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

43. He will not go behind his father’s saying,

44. And he likes having thought of it so well

45. He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

*****


See Poetry Foundation: The Mending Wall by Robert Frost.


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memories/Childhood, My Thoughts, Sunday Photo Fiction, Writing, Writing Challenges

Sunday Photo Fiction: Lost Dreams


Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting SPF.


spf-county-hotel
Credit: A Mixed Bag

Fifteen-years ago Chloe had visited the County Hotel for the first time in Aisling.

As a young woman, she loved how most of the boutiques and fine dining in the city were here. She adored the opulent movie theater and grand Opera House nearby. The area bustled with tourists and business people alike.

But Chloe’s favorite neighborhood Le Solas Na Greine, had aged. She decided this would be her last stay at the County Hotel. She noticed how much the decor of the hotel was worn. Even the blankets and sheets were threadbare and Chloe was afraid to go outside, except to catch a cab.

Now she visited a new hub of the city, the neighborhood of Lasaim. Yet, she was still upset such a lively and vibrant neighborhood as Le Solas Na Greine, was now the poorest and most frightening place in the city to be. It tainted her fondest memories of vacationing here.

She hoped in the future a new generation of politicians and citizens would revive her neighborhood. After all, didn’t the name of the city Aisling mean dream?


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Actor/ Actress, Books, Current Events, Movie Reviews, My Thoughts, Writing

Writing, Mockingjay 2, and Christmas



My week has slowed down considerably since my course is done. I was happy with the way the course went even though it was frustrating to get notes throughout the course. The frustration was worth it in the end. I have taken basic Creative Writing or fiction courses before so I was looking for maybe an art course I could take in the afternoon but all the courses I’m interested in are at night and like with academic courses, it is even more difficult to draw or paint at night. I’m not sure why because it use to be so relaxing but I end up doing most of the work in the day because I’m not able to do art for long at night. Thus, I have opted for a writing course, a general course on fiction online through Simon Frasier University. There is a course in spring about finishing your works of fiction when you have your manuscript, which looks informative too. I don’t have a full manuscript though it has been a long time since I have felt like I could work on my book. I have some revisions to do first on the chapters I have, due to some critiques from a course I submitted it for. As well, I have been stuck at this one section where my main character is going to her boyfriend’s office party. I have to work out some aspects about setting too. I was picturing a Vancouver like place but I have never been to Vancouver besides in the airport. I am building up some Airmiles so maybe I will have to take a week trip there this year. Perhaps, one of my brothers would come with me or my Mom. Anyways, I am getting ideas for my book so Christmas maybe a good time to begin work on the revisions to start.

——-

Yesterday, I met my brother and his girlfriend for a movie. We went to see Mockingjay 2 from the Hunger Games movie series. I had seen part 1 with both my brother and his girlfriend and she immediately went home and read the books and saw the earlier movies.

SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t seen the last movie or read the last book don’t read on.

I loved Mockingjay Part 1 and I was anxious to see how in the movies they would complete the process of war against President Snow and the Capitol. I think Katniss is aware that she is being used by President Coin, District 13’s leader. But I don’t think she realizes to what degree until it is too late. Katniss is the figurehead, the face the citizens of each district rally for. She is the Mockingjay and Coin effectively uses her to distract President Snow, Katniss, citizens from each district, and any other people supporting the districts emancipation from the Capitol. Coin uses Katniss, and swoops in to be President of the Capitol, saying she will hold elections later, when the state of Panem has calmed down.

Ironically, President Snow knows he is facing defeat when he calls all the people of the Capitol city to come and be safe at his home where he will provide shelter and food. The worst part of the movie is when you think President Snow directs the peacekeepers to put all the children ahead of everyone else seeking shelter, in barricaded areas. Then little packages come floating down. The children think they are presents but they are much worse. They are bombs and it appears as if in a last act of tyranny, Snow has blown the children of the Capitol to pieces.

But Katniss discovers something when she talks to Snow in his rose garden after Coin and the Districts have taken over. Snow reminds Katniss even though he has few morals he wouldn’t kill all those children because it would be unnecessary. He was already defeated. It was Coin who bombed all the children, killing Katniss’s sister and making President Snow appear supremely tyrannical even to his own guards and citizens of the Capitol. What is more painful for Katniss is the fact Gale was apart of Coin’s plan, on purpose? I don’t know. Gale apologizes to Katniss for not taking care of Katniss’s family as he promised he would. But it is too late, the idea of bombing civilians who were powerless had been his idea to begin with.

I liked Gale and wanted him to end up with Katniss. But once Gale saw how the Capitol treated the people of District 12 and destroyed the District, he developed a kill or be killed view Katniss didn’t agree with. He believes it is okay to have civilian casualities if they are the enemy. But he sees how terrible his thinking is when he looses Katniss, his bestfriend and the girl he loves. Not to mention, the relationship between Katniss and Peta becomes apparent as Katniss and her military team fight their way to Snow so Katniss can kill Snow.

When Katniss finds out what President Coin has done she waits for her moment to strike. When Coin calls for a meeting of all the remaining Hunger Game participants to have one last Hunger Games with children of the Capitol’s citizens, instead of executing everyone involved with Snow’s government, Katniss agrees. Her and Haymitch sway the vote. But Katniss only agrees because she is allowed the honour of killing Snow.

Katniss is particularly brilliant in her actions. But little does she find out that she and even Coin are being used by the second Game maker of the Hunger Games, Plutarch. Plutarch is aware of the moves people will make even before they will make them; he is the ultimate game maker. So, everything goes according to plan when Katiness directs her arrow at  Coin instead of Snow. Snow is dying anyways, and a mob of people finish the job. Coin lies dead, no better then Snow.


But as Plutarch planned the 75th Hunger Games, he directs Katniss and Coin in their actions, as if he is directing a larger Hunger Games, the freedom of Panem. Katiness’s killing of Coin is pardoned by a new elected leader of Panem, one of the other District leaders. Her death makes elections a definite event that will continue to occur in Panem for the future. With Katniss, Plutarch directs the forming of a new government for Panem and a better life for all its citizens. He writes Katniss a letter admitting to using her, and not regretting it.

In the end, Katniss having lost Gale — her bestfriend, her little sister Prim, and a great part of herself, goes home to live in the victor’s houses with Haymitch in District 12. She is overjoyed to find Peta there one day planting prime roses in honour of Prim. The end of this series is wonderful because we see two people broken by the awful Hunger Games, war, and lost loved ones, be at peace in Disrict 12.

Katiness hunts again. She lives with Peta and they have two children together. How does she sort through all the tragedy she’s experienced? She makes lists of all the good things people have done in her head and these lists get her through her nightmares. The good in people make her journey worth all the people who have died in the Hunger Games. It makes it worth the people she killed, were killed for her, and because of her, all since she volunteered for The Hunger Games. Lists about the good things people do make Katiness able to live with herself and create a life for her family.

I loved the whole series. It was one of my favourite book to film adaptations I have seen. And I loved the vivid and creative costumes worn by the people in the Capitol. They were indeed lavish and vein, as they were beautiful. If you haven’t seen or read the series, I urge you to check out The Hunger Games. The first time I received the intial novel I thought what weird book did my friend give me. But I was hooked once I started reading and you will be too. Whether or not you read, or watch, or do both.

Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer:

———

Christmas is close, I’m looking forward to our family traditions of snacks and church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day. I’m trying to visit and talk to many friends who have some time off. I have lots planned. I am looking forward to getting my haircut and nails done next week and to getting my final shopping items. I am hoping everyone likes their presents and I’m looking to getting myself a nice tablet. My old one has had it! I want to do baking still and I would like to see a couple more movies. There are some good ones that are out besides Mockingjay 2 and Spectre which I wrote about in an earlier post. Joy with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert Deniro looks great. Reminds me I have to watch a couple old Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper movies that came after Silver Lining’s Playbook. There is a great sequal to the Tim Burton directed Alice in Wonderland. If you’ve read the book you’ll know that the sequal is Alice Through The Looking Glass. Johnny Depp returns as the mad-hatter and Sasha Baron- Cohan an actor I never would have thought would go much of anywhere, shows his versatility by playing ‘time’ in this movie.

Anyways, that’s all for now.

——

©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.