Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Lately all I think of is songs that jump into my head. My brain has no mental boundaries to music. I was thinking of the Beatles song that goes: "fixing a hole where the rains gets in, to stop my mind from wandering..." Kill me for not knowing the name and moreso for not looking it up but I think we all know who the Beatles are. All summer I fix cracks with caulking and sand down metal, and paint panels. It is actually a motivating reason for my mind to wander. It is intense wandering. I travel to the moon and back several times as I am working with tools. Rolling out and watching paint dry can be the most gripping experience ever as long as you have something to mentally mull over. I've been thinking about personal privacy lately and how we are sensitive creatures, with a need for privacy. This got me thinking of walls.

Does a wall stop the wind or hold up the roof? Does it muffle the noise of the outdoors? Does it hide the indoors? Walls are a kind of fence, in that they are meant to separate but they can also be a place to meet. Windows are in walls. Robert Frost wrote "Mending wall" about the diversity of reactions to a wall, and what keeps them erect. Here:

Mending Wall -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: 5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on 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, 10
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. 15
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. 20
Oh, just another kind of out-door 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 25
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 30
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 offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 35
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. 40
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.” 45

Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936). The New Poetry: An Anthology. 1917.


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