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Overreaction to fence?

July 4, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

To the editor:

Your June 30 editorial started off with "'Good fences make good neighbors' - the old saying doesn't hold true for the controversial barrier that Gauthier's Saranac Lake Inn erected on Lake Flower Avenue."

I don't know if this is an "old saying," but it is a line from Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," and I have heard it repeated over the years this way: "As Robert Frost says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'"

We can presume that the poet is the narrator of the poem, and the narrator says: "He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across and eat the cones under his pines." It is then that the neighbor replies with the oft-quoted line, "Good fences make good neighbors."

For some reason this is the takeaway line that is always quoted, but it is not what the narrator/poet is trying to say. Later in the poem Frost says: "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 offense. Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

In that bit of philosophy I think that Frost did have something very profound and telling to say. To me the takeaway line that gives the gist of the poet's opinion and that is most relevant to the current situation is: "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

Dave J. Staszak

Saranac Lake

 
 

 

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