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Analysis

"Mending Wall" sounds and feels like the experience of shouting into an empty barn and seeing startled birds fly up, or of hearing the barn’s wooden walls creak and shift a little. The poem also sounds like we are in the middle of the woods, hearing nothing but the leaves rustle in the trees. Yes, siree, this is a quiet poem. The hunters and their noisy dogs are a far-off memory when the speaker tells us about them, and the their supposed noise only helps to intensify the poem’s silent nature. In fact, we can’t help but feel little lonesome, simply because there is such an absence of sounds, people, places, and things.

The presence of the spell, "Stay where you are until our backs are turned," makes us hear the two repeated lines – "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall" (1, 36) and "Good fences make good neighbors" (lines 27, 46) – in a more spell-like way. Coupling those repetitions with the quietness which lurks throughout the rest of the poem compels us to ponder that age-old question: "If a wall falls in the forest and no one is around to hear or see it fall, does it actually fall?" Work on that for us, will you?

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