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Robert Frost

Mending Wall

Easier questions on which to cut your teeth!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 20 January 2014
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Every year in spring, the poet and his neighbour walk along the stone wall which separates their two farms and they repair the wall -- putting back the stones which have rolled off.

The poet asks questions about how the wall might have fallen down in the first place -- making a game of it by suggesting such things as the elves having done it.

The two men, however, have very different ideas about the purpose of the wall: the poet sees no need for it because it acts as a barrier between them, while the neighbour believes that the wall keeps the good relationship going between the owners of the separate farms.


Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. At the age of 11, he moved to New England, and it would be there that he would attain his rural poetic flair.

He attended Harvard University, where he married Elinor White. His grandfather bought them a farm where they would stay for some nine years and where he would work early in the mornings writing many of the poems which made him famous.

In 1912, Frost moved to England where he would flesh out his poetic ability and come under the influence of several English poets -- and also of the American, Ezra Pound.

In 1915, soon after the Great War began, Frost and his wife returned to America and bought a farm in New Hampshire. There the poet spent much of his time writing and teaching. From 1916 through to 1938 he lectured English at Amherst College.

Frost was already 86 when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as President of the United States of America. The poet was invited to attend and to speak at the function. It was the final moment of an illustrious life. Two years later -- in January 1963 -- he died from blood clots to his lungs.

"Mending Wall" was written in 1916 and describes an incident on his farm in New Hampshire. He would use the expression, "Good fences made good neighbours", an idea which he himself clearly despised -- and yet the quote has gone on to be used ever since in a most positive light.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

"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."
  • What is it that doesn't love a wall? (4)

[Need help?]

  • What word or words tell you that the fallen rocks are not carefully stacked on the ground? (2)

[Need help?]

  • Is "frozen-ground-swell" an example of a proper noun, a common noun, an abstract noun or a compound noun? Explain your answer. (3)

[Need help?]

"The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a 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,
But at spring mending-time we find them there."
  • Name the TWO forces that are at work to destroy the wall? (2)

[Need help?]

  • What THREE CONSECUTIVE WORDS tell you clearly that the poem is set in Spring? (3)

[Need help?]

  • Describe the wall in your own words. (6)

[Need help?]

  • Why do you think the hunters destroy the walls? (4)

[Need help?]

"No one has seen them made or heard them made,
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."
  • Where does the neighbour live? What words tell you this? (4)

[Need help?]

  • What is the difference between the neighbour's farm and that belonging to the poet? (2)

[Need help?]

  • Explain in your own words how the neighbour and the poet go about mending the wall. (4)

[Need help?]

Try another worksheet?

See also:
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