During the time of World War I, Robert Frost composed his poetry to contrast themes that dealt with issues, and he also used his poems to portray difficulties that inspire living things to achieve their wants. In the poems, Mending Wall and The Cow in Apple Time, Robert Frost reveals the deeper meaning of a wall and a fence as an extended metaphor in order to convey that a barrier serves as a motivation for individuals or animals to accomplish their purpose.
The poem, Mending Wall, illustrates how a wall is dividing the speaker and his neighbor, yet they still work together to repair the wall to remain their relationship. The phrase, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; and makes gaps even two can pass abreast (lines 3-4), demonstrates that it is not right for people to be separated and the gaps indicate them to pass through easily. The literal meaning of this phrase is that it is natural for people to remain connected and be able to communicate with each other. The metaphoric meaning is that gaps make change, yet keep connections alive. The line, Good Fences make Good Neighbors (line 45), indicates that both neighbors respect each others property and are willing to work with one another to guarantee that the wall maintains complete. The literal meaning of this line expresses that they will remain good neighbors as long as the fence remains. Metaphorically, it describes their respect for each others property. The phrase, And set the wall between us once again, we keep the wall between us as we go (lines 14-15), demonstrates that this is an ongoing issue between the two, however they appear to overcome it by repairing the wall annually. The literal meaning of the phrase is that this is not something new to them and that it should keep them separated but united as well. The metaphoric meaning is that the neighbors don’t let anything come in between them, and repair what is broken. Fewer walls between people will create better relationships.
The poem, The Cow in Apple Time, is about a cow who jumps over a wall to get apples, upon eating the apple she is impressed with the taste of cider but shortly faces the consequences of illness and is unable to produce milk due to the excessive intake. The lines, She leaves them bitten when she has to fly, she bellows on a knoll against the sky (lines 9-10), demonstrate that as she bites more of the apples she starts to feel sick. The literal meaning is that the apple or fruit have negative consequences. The metaphorical meaning is that too much of something is not good and change can sometimes be harmful. The lines, Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools, a cider syrup, having tastes fruit (lines 4-5), indicates that after tasting the fruit, the cow is admired by the fruit and eats more than what she can handle. The literal meaning of these lines is to show her inspiration of the taste of fruit. The metaphorical meaning is for her to understand that an excessive amount of something is not good and there was a reason why the wall barrier was put before her. The lines, To make no more of a wall than an open gate, and think no more of wall-builders than fools (lines 2-3), demonstrate how the cow did not think about the purpose for the divider or the outcomes of going through the gate, she followed her craving to taste the juice. The literal meaning is there is a wall and barrier for a reason. However, humans or animals don’t realize to think beyond those walls. The metaphorical meaning is to think before act. Thinking before acting will overall lead to accomplishments apart from opposing, which then leads to the downfall of morality.
These both poems highlight how walls between people symbolizes separating yet uniting and how the more good things one gets may lead to disappointment. Make sure choices are well made in order to sustain a healthy relationship.
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