The trails meander through the river valley park where the city erected unique benches made from verdant trees felled to create park pathways. At night Paul and his four dogs inhabit a particular bench. They rest their tired legs and pant joyfully, cooling off from the hot humid summer days, during the night.
However, in the winter the dogs huddle against Paul, absorbing each other’s heat. Paul doesn’t have much in his tattered backpack. Only a oversized bottle of water, a bag of dog food, a couple of protein bars, and thin blankets for the dogs. But one night the ice creeps up frosting Paul’s beard. It’s -45 degrees Celsius outside and the homeless shelters are full.
Despite layers of clothing Paul trembles and his teeth chatter; he can’t sleep in this miserable blizzard. He’s terrified the dogs will freeze to death — they’re his family and all he values in the world. He covers them, wrapping them in blankets before spreading the sleeping bag across them all. Their fur is frosted over and he keeps rubbing them with his gloved hands to keep their bodies from stiffening.
Suddenly, a light shines, blinding Paul in the treacherous cold, then his body heats as if he were sitting out on a beach in Mexico on the perfect hot day. The dogs peer up at him from the white sand, wagging their tails. Paul and his dogs have moved on and exist in a place beyond words or woofs. They’ve left cruelty behind.
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).
I would like to go to Banff, and spend some time walking in the town and enjoying being in the outdoors. Banff is a popular tourist spot and ski town in Alberta, Canada.
2. I would like to finish scrapbooking a mini-album for a friend whose wedding was last year.
3. I would like to go some where warm for vacation. I’m thinking Mexico or Hawaii.
4. I would like to finish the first manuscript for my novel.
5. I would like to sleep and wake up and feel completely energized and able to do anything I desire.
Thanks to La Duchesse D’erat for the list writing prompt. The Duchess wrote that we should list:
” . . .things we feel like doing in 2016, things that really inspire us, make us smile, giggle. It’s not a resolutions list. No need to feel compelled to realize what you write down, but the simple fact of writing the list may blow some wind under your wings and help you accomplish something new . . .”
Prompt: How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?
If I never felt fear, so many things would be different. I would have stood up to the girls in high school that were being mean to me.
I would have yelled at the boys in elementary school who called me fat and I would’ve kicked every single one of them so they didn’t call me that word again.
If I wasn’t afraid I would’ve kissed Robert who I liked and spent a trip to a Mexican Orphanage and San Diego when we were seated on the bench at the zoo. I wouldn’t have cared if my Dad had seen. I would’ve kissed fearlessly.
If I wasn’t afraid I would’ve gone home with a guy named John in university; I would have stayed at the bar even though I had a headache; I would have spent the night with him. He was handsome and smart.
If I wasn’t afraid I would have told the first guy I loved exactly what I thought of him. To act like he liked me, to abuse the fact he knew I was in love with him, but to be bored when I talked to him. To not try enough for me. For that I would have yelled at him and asked him at the beginning of third year what his problem was.
If I had no fear, I would have forgotten sooner then I did. I wouldn’t be afraid seeing all those posts with his latest girlfriend accidentally, how much she loves him and the time they spend together. I wouldn’t be jealous because I could never be the one; I will never be his girl. I wouldn’t be sad on their wedding day if I had no fear.
If I was fearless, I wouldn’t have gone to work that day I knew I shouldn’t have gone. The day I feel to pieces at the office because my Dad told me I had to go. I would’ve stayed home and no one would have ever known what I mess I was at the end of that year.
If I had no fear, when I see ‘I’ in the mall I would confidently go up to him and talk to him when I see him. I wouldn’t be afraid that because last time I saw him I was crying and confused. I would say hello, let him look at what he missed.
If I had no fear I wouldn’t have been afraid when I got sick. I wouldn’t have thought much when I thought I heard people saying bad things about me. I wouldn’t have cared. I wouldn’t have cared that each drug I took made me feel bad.
If I was fearless, I wouldn’t be afraid of tomorrow. That I will get worse again and have an episode or that I will always be chronically fatigued. I wouldn’t fear the future at all. I would trust that everything would work out.
If I wasn’t afraid, I would go out with dates with a lot of guys even though I have a lot of problems. I would sleep with whoever I am attracted to and I wouldn’t care if that was all he wanted or I wanted. I would be like many guys and turn off that part of my brain that cares.
If I had no fear I would travel the world alone. No matter I could only do it half day at a time but I would go and by myself. I wouldn’t care that my parents would be scared or that I was scared inside. Especially when my energy ran out in some place behind the old Iron Curtain.
If I wasn’t afraid I could do so many things. But you see, we have fear for a reason. And even though some of our fears are not reasonable, we made the choices we made and they cannot be undone.
I chose to act how I did in every situation, even when I was in the wrong. But I had fear because it made me think, that somethings aren’t a good idea. Because I have fear I have morals. And I think many things through.
Fear is a good thing in small doses. Or else, I would be skydiving right now.