What Is The Theme Of Mending Wall By Robert Frost

Mending Wall, by Robert Frost, is an iconic poem in the American literary canon. It is a meditation on the need for one neighbor to keep an annual vigil of rebuilding a mutual boundary to its primitive condition. The poem is divided into two sections, each sixteen lines in length, and contains thought-provoking imagery and themes of nature, the changing of seasons, the frailty of human relationships and the tension between tradition and innovation. The overall theme of Mending Wall is the necessity of preserving existing boundaries, both physical and emotional, in human relationships.

Conflict Between Nature and Man

The poem perfectly captures the tension between the war between Nature and Man and reinforces the idea that as humans, we are forever struggling to keep our sense of individuality and boundary. Frost’s use of physical metaphors purpose to demonstrate how two people can disagree while still maintaining an understanding: “The gaps I mean,/No one has seen them made or heard them made,/But at spring mending-time we find them there” (Frost), in which he compares rebuilding a wall to that of finding an invisible gap on the wall between two neighbors. The fact that the gap is invisible to the naked eye gives us an idea of the delicate relationship between Nature and Man.

Relationships and Boundaries

Mending Wall is also a meditation on the importance of preserving traditions, boundaries, and relationships. The poem builds on the relationship between two neighbors and how they interact as they work together to rebuild the wall. Frost accurately portrays the importance of maintaining relationships in this poem, as the wall in the poem is a metaphor for the relationship itself. By continuing the tradition of rebuilding the wall each spring, the two neighbors are demonstrating mutual respect and understanding for the shared boundary that exists between them.

Symbols and Metaphors

Frost’s use of symbols in Mending Wall is also noteworthy. He states, “Good fences make good neighbors” (Frost), a metaphor for the importance of relationships, as well as a warning against attempts to breach a previously established boundary. Frost also builds tension between his two characters in the poem by juxtaposing one neighbor’s traditional stoicism against the other’s restless nature. He does this by describing the neighbor who is rebuilding the wall as “Like an old-stone savage armed” (Frost), which is a metaphor for his stoic nature and willingness to continue the tradition of rebuilding the wall, while the other neighbor is portrayed as “stretching spokes of dials/in a deserted face” (Frost) which is a metaphor for his more inquisitive and critical nature.

Change and Innovation

The poem also suggests that change and innovation are necessary components of a healthy relationship between two people. Frost uses the metaphor of the wall to comment on the dynamic between the two neighbors. By having them rebuild the wall from one side each spring, Frost suggests that the relationship between them must be continually reshaped and maintained for it to remain strong. The poem is an exploration on the idea that boundaries must be constantly adjusted and maintained for a relationship to endure and remain strong.

The Power of Nature

Finally, Mending Wall is a reminder of the power of nature and the need for humans to respect the natural world. Frost subtly suggests that Nature is stronger than human relationships, and that humans should treat it with respect and reverence. By using the imagery of Nature to describe the building of the wall, Frost underscores the idea that while Nature is powerful, humans have the ability to shape and reshape their relationships with Nature if they take the time to understand and respect it.

Identity and Tradition

The poem also serves as a reminder that individual identity and tradition are also important elements in preserving relationships and boundaries. By allowing one to self-identify and embrace their culture, individuals are better able to recognize the shared boundaries that exist between them and others. Frost brilliantly uses the structure of the poem to emphasize the importance of self-discovery; while the two neighbors agree to rebuild the wall each spring, they are doing so separately, maintaining their individual identities and embracing the rituals of their culture.

Freedom and Connection

The poem ultimately argues that freedom and connection are both necessary components of healthy relationships and boundaries. Frost juxtaposes this idea in the poem through the use of imagery. He states, “We wear our fingers rough with handling them” (Frost), which is a metaphor for how two people work together to preserve the natural boundary between them. At the same time, he shows how the wall represents an opportunity for freedom and creativity, as it allows the two neighbors to create a strong relationship with one another.


In conclusion, Mending Wall by Robert Frost is a powerful and timeless poem that speaks to the need for people to maintain existing boundaries, both physical and emotional, in a relationship. Though the poem does use physical and metaphor to express this theme, Frost ultimately celebrates the idea that relationships require respect for individual identity and tradition, and that freedom and connection are both necessary components of healthy relationships and boundaries. By emphasizing these themes, Frost’s poem serves as an important reminder of the importance of preserving and upholding boundaries.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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