If Shakespeare had been Robert Frost’s editor, perhaps “Mending Wall” might have been published in iambic pentameter.
SOMETHING there is that loveth not a wall,
That sendeth frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spilleth upper boulders shoulders tall;
And maketh gaps so two can pass asunder it.
The work of hunters, others must atone:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have scarcely left not stone on stone,
But they would have the fox out of his lair
To please the yelping curs. The gaps, I fear:
Eye hath not seen nor ear heard thusly made,
But at spring mending-time they thus appear.
I let my neighbor know beyond the glade;
And on a day we meet to walk the field
And set the wall between us then once more.
We keep the wall betwixt us as we yield
To each the boulders that did fall before.
And some are loaves and some so nearly round
We must needs use a spell to make them stand:
“Stay where you are until our backs are bound!”
We wear our fingers rough with stones of sand.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-fame.
My apple trees no doubt will never soar
And eat the cones under his pines, I wager.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is mischief in me, and still I wager,
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why is it that they make so good a neighbor?
Is it not where the cows do graze instead?
But here there are no grazing cows to rout.”
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And with whom I was like to have a row.
“Something there is that loveth not a wall,
That wants it down!” I could say “Elves,” but no,
Not elves exactly, and I’d rather stall,
That he might say himself. I hear him crow,
Bringing stones grasped firmly by the face
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness, as our human race,
Not just of woods and stone fields stately farmed.
He will not go behind his father’s word,
He likes to have the thought of it, to savor:
There would have been a time for such word;
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”