Robert Frost’s poems “Mending Wall” and “Birches
After reading both of Robert Frost’s poems “Mending Wall” and “Birches,” explain how each poem
offers advice about life and interpersonal relations.
The literal level of meaning in each of these poems tells a story that is particular to the poem; look
to the figurative level of meaning (e.g., symbolism, similes, metaphors, interpretation of imagery, the
speaker’s tone) to discover what advice or message the speaker and/or poet are trying to convey by
telling the story in each poem.
Questions to Guide Your Analysis
In “Mending Wall,” especially consider the two lines that get repeated in the poem: “Something there
is that doesn’t love a wall” (1,35) and “Good fences make good neighbors” (27,45)
What are the differences between the speaker’s attitude about the wall and the neighbor’s attitude
about the wall?
In “Birches,” consider the concluding line: “[o]ne could do worse that be a swinger of birches” (59)
How would you describe the speaker’s tone in this line? in the poem as a whole?
Use at least one direct quotation from each poem to illustrate your analysis