by Evan Mantyk As the border wall with Mexico that President Trump is building gains greater and greater attention, so too has the early 20th century poem, “Mending Wall,” by American poet Robert Frost. The poem takes issue with the old proverb “good fences make good neighbors,” which happens to be precisely the same proverb that Vice President Mike Pence has used in the past to describe the border wall with Mexico. Speaking about the wall, Pence said, “But you know, there’s an old saying in Indiana that good fences make good neighbors. And the way we can be good neighbors is with strong leadership in the United States as a start.” Now, Frost’s poem is becoming a sort of anti-wall anthem. To be clear, the proverb preceded the poem though some people seem to think Pence was quoting Frost. At any rate, the catapulting of an old poem to front page news, or any page, is always exciting for literary types and led one Washington Post writer to even write her own version of Frost’s poem, lampooning Pence’s sentiment. The poem is neither well written nor compassionate to those who have suffered because of the problems caused by illegal immigration. That said, it does have the terrific line, “Good Pences make good neighbors.” I’ll drink to that. Lost in the romanticism of poetry and politics is the fact that Frost’s anti-wall poem specifically stipulated that the wall in his poem was not needed since “there are no cows.” The implication made by Frost is that good fences do indeed make good neighbors when you have a situation where things are crossing over that aren’t supposed to. Thus, Vice President Pence or any other pro-wall politician may happily quote Frost and the proverb unimpeded—just be careful not to call illegal immigrants cows outright. Finally, in the same vein, I offer to you a poem in response to Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”: Building Wall There is something there that loves a wall: The easy car trip when your loved ones call— No need to worry cows might block the road And pepper it with putrid, pie-like load. No need to live a life in fear of crime Thanks to my front door, it’s the wall that I’m Most thankful for. It also keeps me warm And saves me from the lashings of a storm. The lines are walls as well in Renaissance art, Dividing colors, pulling space apart; The lines are firmly shaded, unrelenting, And chief among the means used for inventing. Now you may hear folks quote the poet Frost That building walls comes at some sort of cost: A loss of our humanity’s connection, A severing of some vague innate extension. For Frost claims that he mends a needless wall, Implying his mind’s broad, his neighbor’s small. Frost mocks the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors”— A civil tradition the common man harbors. Yet who knows all? Who knows the future’s course? Is not the urge to mend a greater force? New grandkids may need fences when they play; Strong walls on property will one day pay. No, it was Frost who had a wall in heart That tore tradition’s timeless truth apart… So if a man requests a wall, then build it. It’s more than what you think you see that willed it.