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The Wall/Fences

Symbol Analysis

The wall is the shining star of this poem. It unites our speaker and his neighbor, but separates them as well. As we hear the neighbor speak the proverb twice ("Good fences make good neighbors"), we start to consider all of the wall-like structures in our life: fences, gates, boundaries, lines, etc. The wall serves as a canvas upon which a lot of complex ideas about the ways in which people, and their relationships with others, are painted and discussed.

  • Line 13: The wall is ironic because, even though it separates the speaker from his neighbor, it also brings them together every year.
  • Line 14: "The wall" is present throughout the poem as an extended metaphor for the division that exists between the speaker and his neighbor.
  • Line 16: "To each" is a parallelism, as its repetition emphasizes the fact that the speaker and his neighbor are on opposite side of the wall.
  • Line 21: "Another kind of out-door game" becomes a metaphor for the wall-mending process
  • Line: 27: The proverb "Good fences make good neighbors" is also a cliché; we hear it all the time.
  • Line 27: The proverb "Good fences make good neighbors" is a paradox when you contrast it with the first words of the poem, "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall." In the first case, barriers are good things; in the second, they are not.
  • Line 35: "Offence" is a pun – it sounds like "a fence."

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