Do Fences Make Good Neighbors? – Jacki Kellum Memoir – Picture These Quotes


For many, may years I have loved the poetry of Robert Frost, and
one of his poems that I love best is Mending Wall. 

Moments ago, I wrote a post about Walls,
and I am able to see Frost’s poem in an entirely new light


Gate Leading into Jacki Kellum’s Back, Side Garden

Early this summer, I wrote a few snippets about Mending Wall. I was in the process of tearing down an overgrown fence and gate that led into my garden, and I was reminded of Frost’s poetry.

One of my quick reflections on Robert Frost’s Mending Wall Here

Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret garden gate.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

“When I walk through that gate…that’s my escape.” – Maria Sharapova

Have you ever considered the true nature of a fence? We often think of a fence as someting to keep a creature inside an area–i.e. fencing cattle or a dog or something. I actually think that the more important purpose of a fence is that of keeping others out–of creating boundaries, spaces for privacy, sanctuaries. With that in mind, what is a gate?

“So Brother Matthew locked the gate behind me and I was enclosed in the four walls of my new freedom.” – Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk

Significance of Fences and Gates Here

Until moments ago, I do not believe that I considered the fact that Frost was talking about personal walls. I had written my post before it occurred to me that I was alluding to the same kinds of wall that needed mending as Frost probably also had expressed.

My post about the Walls that Need to Come Down Here

Mending Wall


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:
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.
I let my neighbour 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.
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.
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
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
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,
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.
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 neighbours.”

9 thoughts on “Do Fences Make Good Neighbors? – Jacki Kellum Memoir – Picture These Quotes

  1. Frost wrote two poems about fences. The other one goes the other way, and I keep forgetting about it. Most of the fences I see don’t work. They’re for decoration. Living near Gettysburg, however, I am often reminded of the wooden fences that were thrown up in desperate haste and the natural fences there, too. The hope was to defeat, certainly, though I wonder if it was more the hope to feel defended. Once I was running in a creek with my dog, when he found an open space in a fence that I wouldn’t fit through. As a mischief, through he went and suddenly was amid cows inside the fence. I felt annoyance and fear–the fear was greater and over the prospect of my dog being stepped on by a cow so much bigger than he. I also noted that the cows and dog were of the same colors, black and white, which I imagine has nothing to do with anything. Eventually, my dog responded to my calls and came back under–nonchalantly, of course. Fences and neighbors? Both have good uses, so how about fences neighbor-waist high that we can talk over? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As you get to know me better, you will discover that I do not exaggerate or gild the lily. I call it like I see it. That is the only decent way to live.


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