by Robert Frost
Don’t mind our speaker. He’s just going through a rebellious phase. Pinning him down is a tricky task. He seems to be getting a little antsy in life. He’s just spent a snowy winter in his New England home, and he’s itching to talk to somebody. Unfortunately, that "somebody" only speaks five words. Ever.
At first, our speaker gets us all riled up about the wall, and about how unfair it is that parts of the wall keep getting destroyed and broken. He earns our sympathy when he talks about cleaning up after the reckless hunters. We start to understand the annual ritual of mending the rock wall, and we know that he sets this mending process in motion.
But, then, our speaker throws a wrench into the whole poem. He begins to talk about how silly walls are, and how unnecessary this particular wall is. He thinks revolutionary thoughts about inspiring his neighbor to reconsider the wall. He hopes to implant a notion in his stubborn neighbor’s head that would allow him to question the need for a wall. Like a teenager, our speaker challenges the necessity of something that’s a big part of his life. He also acts a wee bit condescending towards his neighbor, calling him a "savage."
However, as the poem moves along, it becomes less and less clear how exactly our speaker feels about this particular wall. At the end of the day, he might not give two hoots about the rock wall, but, rather, he craves a little dialogue and interrogation. Maybe our speaker simply can’t accept a task without questioning why that task is important or necessary. We like him because he stirs the pot, and he asks some good questions. Without him, this poem would just concern a wall that never gets fixed.