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Mending Wall

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

Analysis: Form and Meter

Blank Verse

Frost writes this poem in blank verse, meaning that it doesn’t rhyme (sad), but it does have interesting structure stuff going on. The poem loosely follows an iambic pentameter structure. Let’s get our hands dirty and break down this architecture. Counting is always a good way to begin. We know that the poem has 46 lines, making "there where it is we do not need the wall" (line 23) the dead center of the poem, which is the exact point at which we figure out that our speaker isn’t so gung-ho about the wall that he mends.

The majority of the lines in this poem have 10 syllables (in true iambic pentameter fashion), but we can find ten lines which have eleven syllables. When we encounter these lines, they momentarily throw our internal rhythm off kilter, and make us pay extra attention to the lines themselves. An example of this comes in line 8, when the speaker says, "But they would have the rabbit out of hiding." The eleventh syllable here seems to parallel the actual act of trying to force a bunny out of his hole. The last syllable of this line falls off the edge of the poem in the same way that a bunny falls out of its hiding place when it’s pursued by ferocious dogs.

Frost repeats two lines in this poem. Can you tell which lines they are? You guessed it: "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall," and "Good fences make good neighbors." The repetitions of these lines, as well as the repetition of certain phrases throughout the poem, emphasize the whole "this is my side of the argument, and that’s your side of the argument" theme. The poem is not broken into stanzas, which makes the poem itself look visually like a rock wall turned on its side. We can see the "gaps" in the wall when we look at the way that the line endings form an imperfect line all the way down the page.

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