“No man is an island, entire of himself”. Robert Frost’s ‘The Mending Wall’ and “The Tuft of Flowers”, is a comment on the nature of the individual and its ability to co-exist and interact with others. He examines the way in which we interact with one another and at times, fail to do so. Frost seems to believe that the world is often one of isolation.
The modern man finds it difficult to communicate with one another and fails to relate. Moreover, during the period of time prior to World War 1 (1914-1918) during which these poems were written, tensions over war and political instability grew, this instigated the avoidance of communication with individuals with contrasting beliefs. Yet we looked for others to help such as political leaderships.
As a result, we have a tendency to shut ourselves from others yet in doing so we yearn for the accompaniment of others. These concepts of isolation and desire for accompaniment are effectively conveyed in the message Robert Frost attempts to communicate through “The Tuft of Flowers”. As the poem opens, the solitude of the speaker is evident, it is a loneliness more profound than the temporary loneliness of a morning spent unaccompanied.
Rather it is the slow drift into almost paralysis of consciousness, where the speaker is mesmerised by the thought of the labour of haymaker- “I looked for him behind an isle of trees; I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.” The use of repetitive use of personal pronouns of ‘I looked for him’ and ‘I listened for’, emphasizes this disconnect. This is also suggested by the dash between ‘been’ and ‘alone’ in the last couplet, which almost seems to constitute a sigh.
Moreover the harmonious tone of the iambic rhythm contradicts this pursuit of the mind, almost mocking the detached reality of the speaker, perhaps symbolizing Frost’s mockery of the way in which we attempt to interact with one another which seems to be of prominence throughout this poem. The isolation of the individual is also apparent in the poem; ‘Mending Wall’ in which Frost’s illustrates man’s necessity for barriers to isolate themselves from their fellow men.
However rather than the persona longing for a sense of accompaniment as in “The Tuft of Flowers”, the persona in “Mending Wall” is sceptical on the necessity for human isolation and questions the role of walls in his life. Frost’s use of language in “Mending Wall” reinforces the idea of isolation. The narrator defines his neighbor’s place as being ‘beyond the hill’, further highlighting the concept isolation. The two men’s detachment is obvious, both physically and mentally.
Even when the neighbour arrives to join the persona on the fence mending day, he seems to remain distant, describing how the neighbor seems to ‘move in darkness … not of woods only and the shade of trees’. This darkness that seems to shadow him is the eerie representation of an inability to communicate and relate with the persona. “’Good fences make good neighbors,” this aphorism acts as a source of security for the neighbour and avoids attempts to relate to his neighbor.