Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mending Wall

An old stone wall that's not being kept up.
Courtesty of Charles Lathe, Coho Bicycles.

Discussion after the poem.
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 out-door 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 offence.
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.
Cycling buddies Harvey and Smitty did their first Assault on Mt. Mitchell this past Monday.
Upon prompting from another Irregular (not me), Smitty offered this short description:
It went great. We both finished, although a little slower than we originally planned. The weather was nearly perfect. We had a few minutes where it sprinkled a little bit on the parkway, but never developed into anything more than that. It took us 5 hours to do the first 75 miles to Marion and another 5 hours to do the last 28 miles to the top of Mitchell. I can't wait till next year to do it again. Anyone else want to join in next year? 
Harvey added: 
Let me add that without Paul’s heroic efforts to keep me climbing I would not have made it – I would have quit. AND, he would have easily finished well ahead of his official time had he not hung back to egg me on. 
I do consider it one of my greatest athletic accomplishments – but it would have been all for naught without Paul.

One wag in the group suggested:

Heroic efforts.
I suspect that Smitty will say that the heroic stuff was done by the guy that he encouraged to keep going. 
To which Smitty replied:
I think that Harvey and Smitty had a "Mending Wall" moment.  That is, they worked (played) together to accomplish a task (or goal). 
Much has been written about the meaning of Frost's poem, e.g., see here.  (After finding and making that link, I noticed that it is from my alma mater.  No matter ... my opinion is unchanged.)  As far as I am concerned, those people all miss the point.  The point of the poem is very simple:
Men bond via physical work. 
It does not really matter what the work is accomplishing. 
The joint physical work to accomplish the task is what counts. 
In today's office oriented world, I add physical exercise / play to reach goals.
Sharing a significant experience, or sharing similar experiences at different times can also be a "Mending Wall" moment.  For example, after my failed 600 km brevet this past weekend, Glenn told me of his similar Shennandoah 1200 experience.  Maybe a strange thing over which to share a bond, but there it is.
In my opinion:  jointly working to get to the top of Mitchell ... definitely a Mending Wall moment.

1 comment:

  1. There's a whole new round of discussion/interpretation of the poem, thanks to Sarah Palin's recent mention of it! I'm glad that she's doing her part to encourage poetry appreciation.

    (Congratulations to both riders for their awe-inspiring achievement!)