Imagery in Mending Wall

Imagery Examples in Mending Wall:

Mending Wall 5

"like an old-stone savage armed...."   (Mending Wall)

The narrator glimpses a vision of his neighbor as a savage. The phrase “old-stone savage” is likely a reference to the “Stone Age,” an era of early human history defined by the Danish archaeologist Christian J. Thomsen. The image places the neighbor in the context of a more primal state of existence. In this primitive context, the stone shifts from wall-building material to weapon. It is the savage side of human nature that civilization asks us to wall off within ourselves.

"And some are loaves..."   (Mending Wall)

The image of the stacked stones as loaves of bread reinforces the theme of the wall as a civilizing force. Bread is a symbol for agriculture, a cornerstone of civilized society. The image thus contrasts sharply with that of the rabbits, the food of wild poachers.

"I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;..."   (Mending Wall)

It is notable that the narrator initiates the the tradition of “spring mending-time.” As the poem progresses, it becomes clear that the narrator values tradition less than the neighbor does. The image of the hill between them represents the normal distance between the two characters. Though they overcome this spatial distance during mending-time, the wall itself brings to the surface the metaphorical distance between the two men.

"But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, To please the yelping dogs...."   (Mending Wall)

In the poem’s first half, Frost establishes nature’s relationship to the wall. If the wall represents humanity’s need for order, the wall’s destruction by ice and sun illustrate the opposing chaos of nature. In the images of the hunters’ demolition, we can see how nature’s chaos exists within humans as well as without. The rabbit-poaching in these lines shows how even the actions of men can run counter to the ordering forces of civilization.

"gaps even two can pass abreast...."   (Mending Wall)

To illustrate the scale of the holes in the wall, Frost gives the reader the image of two people “pass[ing] abreast” through the wall. The image foreshadows the encounter between the narrator and the neighbor, who fill the gaps between them. The image also reveals the narrator’s deeper desire to cross the boundary presented by the wall.