January 30, 2010

Richly textured wall


Mossy wall


I have been noticing gray stone and concrete walls lately.  Covered in moss and lichen, they seem to stoically endure — a fitting image of this winter, I think.  Of course, this brings to mind Robert Frost’s famous poem about walls. 

Mending Walls
by Robert Frost 

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
     That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
     And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
     And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
     The work of hunters is another thing:
     I have come after them and made repair
     Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
     But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
     To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
     No one has seen them made or heard them made,
     But at spring mending-time we find them there.
     I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
     And on a day we meet to walk the line
     And set the wall between us once again.
     We keep the wall between us as we go.
     To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
     And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
     We have to use a spell to make them balance:
     “Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
     We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
     Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
     One on a side. It comes to little more:
     There where it is we do not need the wall:
     He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
     My apple trees will never get across
     And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
     He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
     Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
     If I could put a notion in his head:
     “Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
     Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
     Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
     What I was walling in or walling out,
     And to whom I was like to give offense.
     Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
     That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
     But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
     He said it for himself. I see him there,
     Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
     In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
     He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
     Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
     He will not go behind his father’s saying,
     And he likes having thought of it so well
     He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.” 

Stone wall with berries

Wall with ivy

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