Talk:Mending Wall

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WikiProject Poetry (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
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Good fences[edit]

First Use of "Good Fences..."

I'm not sure I like the recent changes by Al001 - for a start, I *think* that frost is the first source for "good fences make good neighbors" - which makes a nonsense of the change to the ironic status of this remark. In other words, it was not a proverb until frost publicised it. --Tomandlu 15:22, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Copyright problem[edit]

Isn't there a problem with Wikipedia "publishing" this copyrighted poem without permission? Robertsteadman 06:48, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

The entire poem is certainly in the public domain. It was printed in a book in 1914 in the USA. Copyright has expired for anything published in the USA before 1923. The text here, FWIW, was only a brief excerpt from a much longer poem (see the external link), not the entire poem. The text of the book is available from Gutenberg. The full poem is at Wikisource. It's public domain. Smerdis of Tlön 18:14, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Another potential copyright violation - it looks like a lot of the "Summary" section is lifted verbatim from the summary in the "SparkNotes" website ( Or maybe they lifted their summary from this Wikipedia page? (talk) 19:47, 19 February 2014 (UTC)


I suggest this article should be deleted. There ism, as stated above, copyright issues and therer seems little purpose to the article. It isn't a particularly famous poem (is it?). Does it deserve an article of its own? Robertsteadman 18:06, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

It already exists at wikisource here, so I don't really know why we need an article on it. For example, most of Poe's works don't have articles either. They are linked from a list of works to the wikisource. Syrthiss 19:12, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

AfD Result Notice[edit]

This article was the subject of an AfD discussion closed on 13 June 2006. The result was Keep. Xoloz 16:11, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

A poor decision based on an incorrect interpretation of the laws of copyright. This isn't the end - let's hope things are sorted before WP is sued. I'm guessing there are many similar cases through WP. Robertsteadman 17:38, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Frost's use of "good fences makes good neighbors" is not ironic at all in the sense the wiki author implies, but rather, is a greater cultural critique of privacy and our need for it -- as it conflicts with ones's sense of community mindedness and good-neighborliness. I find the current phrasing greatly irksome, as well as misleading and incomplete, and have thus NPOV tagged it -- This is too favorable towards "Frost, the icon of Americana" not "Frost, the subtle spinner of cynicism". (Of which we was both) 21:04, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Shmoop link[edit]

Barriodude added one of these shmoop links to Pride and Prejudice, and I was pretty suspicious of it, but before hitting the "rollback" button I spent some time there and it really does seem to be a useful resource. The analysis may not be earth-shattering, but the presentation is fresh, and that's useful too. Someone's sure to come along and say "he's adding all these links to the one site, it must be spam". So I say have a look for yourself; if it's useful and doesn't duplicate what the existing links have to offer, what's wrong with having lots of links to it? So long as each link is on a page where it actually belongs, it seems appropriate. -- Zsero (talk) 05:09, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

From the very first line of WP:EL: "Wikipedia articles may include links to web pages outside Wikipedia. Such pages could contain further research that is accurate and on-topic." (emphasis added) I think it would be a stretch to call Shmoop's content "further research". And accurate? From the Shmoop article, 2nd line: "Unknown culprits continually destroy the rock wall for unknown reasons." Wrong. The poem itself indicates that it is the "frozen groundswell" (hint: that's a frost heave) that destroys the wall, not "unknown culprits". I'm sorry, Shmoop is lame. -- Mwanner | Talk 16:41, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Let's take this further. Here are the first nine lines of the poem:

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...

This is from Shmoop's "Brief Summary":

"He and his neighbor must get together every spring to walk the whole length of the stone wall that separates their properties, and fix places where hunters messed with the rocks." It doesn't take a real close reading of the poem to see that Frost is saying that it is not the work of hunters. So, wrong again. This one, anyway, is garbage. It may be written down for mall-rats (and just doing that doesn't make it something we should link to) but it should be, first and foremost, accurate before we even consider linking to it. -- Mwanner | Talk 16:55, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

OK, now you're switching grounds. Rather than reject the link for its very nature, you're analysing the content, and determining that it's incorrect. Literary interpretation is of course inherently subjective, but in this case it seems to me that your interpretation is better than theirs. I won't re-add this particular link again, though I defend the right of others to do so. But that doesn't invalidate Shmoop links in general, any more than one wrong WP article invalidates WP in general. -- Zsero (talk) 18:19, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

I made a comment on this error, and Shmoop in general, at WP:EL [1]. As I said there, let's see if they fix the error--for it is unambiguously an error. DGG (talk) 18:08, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

Well the grounds are inherently linked. If the shmoop information is not accurate, than it fails the further research criteria. While interpretation is subjective, one can be wrong. In the case of literature, there is never a right way to interpret a poem, but there are extremely wrong ways. Shmoop is an age-based reading guide, not further research. It provides no further intellectual discussion of the poem, rather a dumbed-down version for those who aren't skilled enough to obtain a poem's meaning on their own. Perhaps I should work on starting a webpage that translates Shakespeare into barks and howls so that my dog can understand Henry V , but instead I think we should keep the external links centered on further research. Mrathel (talk) 20:30, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

For what it's worth, Shmoop updated its Mending Wall module based on the feedback shared here. Shmoop's pedagogical approach is - to the extent possible - to leave room for the student to interpret, rather than tell the reader "this is the answer." We believe this is a key differentiator between Shmoop and traditional study guide sites, which tend to discourage further thought and exploration on the student's part. With Mending Wall, Shmoop's original opening paragraph left interpretation open to "unknown culprits," and we stated that this was part of the fun and "mystery" of interpreting this poem. We've clarified that phrase to read "unknown sources," to make it clearer that the cause is not necessarily human. We also changed the second paragraph in question (which, more clearly, needed an edit). We update our content regularly and we greatly appreciate input from readers. Barriodude (talk) 02:39, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Poem Text[edit]

I don't believe the poem text belong in this article. The article guide suggests that only short poems should be included and that longer poems belong on sister projects such as Wikisource. Perhaps we can remove the poem text, put a link to the text on a different site, and use this article to discuss the poem's history, significance, etc. Mrathel (talk) 17:11, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Which is the article guide you referred to? I looked at Wikipedia:Lyrics and poetry which does not talk about length of the text to include. Jay (talk) 12:06, 30 June 2009 (UTC)


Considered metaphorical by whom? I'm planning on changing the article's first sentence to take out the word metaphorical from metaphorical poem. --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:07, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

agreed; there is no reason that it should be labeled "metaphorical" in the description. Good call. Mrathel (talk) 18:16, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Oh, and I have taken the courtesy of removing the poem text, which I am sure I will probably have to do again in a few weeks:) There is already a link to Wikisource in the article; that is what wikisource is for. Wikipedia is for encyclopedia articles. Mrathel (talk) 18:20, 5 November 2009 (UTC)