Mending wall

Words: 401-500

Skills: Character Traits Summary Theme

Grades: 9th 10th 11th 12th

Topics: Realistic Fiction

Genres: Poetry

Lexile Range:

Lexile Measure:

CCSS: Reading: Literature


Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

One of Robert Frost's most famous poems "Mending Wall" was published in 1914. This poem about human relationships and boundaries has survived the years. Students will read the poem and respond to questions on the theme, the characters, and the details.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

    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."

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. What is one thing that happens to the wall over the winter?

2. What does each neighbor have on either side of the wall they are rebuilding?

3. How do you think the narrator feels about his neighbor?

4.  Does the narrator agree with his neighbor that "Good fences make good neighbours"? Use quotations from the text to support your answer.

Vocabulary List

Vocabulary List

Each of the vocabulary words below are used in the reading passage. As you read the passage, pay attention to context clues that suggest the word’s meaning.

  1. yelping
  2. repair
  3. notion
  4. boulders
  5. gap
  6. grasped

Context Clues

Context Clues

Using context clues from the sentences in the passage, underline the correct meaning of the word in boldface.

1) “To please the yelping dogs.”

a. scratching     b. fighting      c. barking or making noise      d. sleeping

2) “I have come after them and made repair.”

a. decorations     b. changes or fixes     c. record or notes     d. walls

3) “I wonder if I could put a notion in his head: "Why do they [fences] make good neighbours?”

a. image     b. surprise     c. puzzle     d. idea

4) “And spills the upper boulders in the sun;”

a. large rocks     b. large branches     c. large leaves     d. hills or mountains

5) “And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.”

a. valleys     b. spaces or holes     c. bridges or tunnels     d. walkways

6) I see him there bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top in each hand…”

a. held     b. balanced     c. picked up     d. dropped