I was recently reminded of a line by the American poet Robert Frost, ‘Good fences make good neighbours’, then I had to go and search out the poem which is, of course, the marvellous “Mending Wall”. I am pretty sure I first read this poem at school.
My favourite part is:
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 find the inclusion of the “Elves” is deliciously random in a poem that is mainly rather down-to-earth and it is often little touches such as that which make a poem, or a passage in a novel, memorable.