“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, English and French side by side with analysis.

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Robert Frost wrote one of his most popular poem: “Mending Wall” in 1914. I decided to translate it and as always put both poems side by side.

A Short Analysis

“Mending Wall” is a poem about two neighbors coming together to fix the wall between their properties.

We can see that the poem’s speaker is not very serious about it. He jokes about it and is not convinced of the need of having a wall separating their properties.

When he asks his neighbor about the need of a fence, this one always answers an old piece of wisdom that his father taught him: Good fences make good neighbors.

A simple interpretation of this piece of wisdom would be that clear boundaries between ourselves and others leads to healthy relationships beween people.

The poem “Mending Wall” contraste the two different approaches to life and human relationship. At the same time it is filled with the regret of what might have been if there was no wall between him and his neighbor.

rock wall
rock wall
Mending Wall
By Robert Frost
Réparation du mur
de Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,Il y a quelque chose ici qui n’aime pas un mur,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,Cela envoie la houle gelée en dessous,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;Et renverse les rochers supérieurs au soleil;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.Et fait des trous ou même à deux, ils peuvent passer de front.
The work of hunters is another thing:Le travail des chasseurs est une autre chose :
I have come after them and made repairJe suis venu après eux et j’ai réparé
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,Où ils n’ont pas laissé une pierre sur une autre,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,Mais ils auraient fait sortir le lapin de sa cachette,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,Pour plaire aux chiens qui jappent. 
Les trous je veux dire,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,Personne ne les a vus ou entendu faire,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.Mais au moment du raccommodage de printemps, nous les y retrouvons.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;J’ai prévenu mon voisin au-delà de la colline;
And on a day we meet to walk the lineEt un jour nous nous rencontrons pour marcher le long de la ligne
And set the wall between us once again.Et remettre le mur entre nous une fois de plus.
We keep the wall between us as we go.Nous gardons le mur entre nous au fur et à mesure.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.À chacun des rochers qui sont tombés pour chacun.
And some are loaves and some so nearly ballsEt certains sont des pains et d’autres presque des balles
We have to use a spell to make them balance:Nous devons utiliser un sort pour les équilibrer :
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’‘Restez où vous êtes jusqu’à ce que nous ayons le dos tourné !’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.Nous rendons nos doigts rugueux en les manipulant.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,Oh, juste un autre genre de jeu en plein air,
One on a side. It comes to little more:Un sur un côté. Il bouge un peu plus :
There where it is we do not need the wall:Là où il est nous n’avons pas besoin du mur :
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.Il est tout pin et je suis verger de pommiers.
My apple trees will never get acrossMes pommiers ne passent jamais de l’autre côté
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.Et mangent les cônes sous ses pins, lui dis-je.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’Il dit seulement : « Les bonnes clôtures font les bons voisins.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonderLe printemps est l’espièglerie en moi, et je me demande
If I could put a notion in his head:Si je pourrais mettre une idée dans sa tête :
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it« Pourquoi  font-elles de bons voisins ? 
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.Où y a-t-il des vaches ? Mais ici, il n’y a pas de vaches.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to knowAvant de construire un mur, je demanderais à savoir
What I was walling in or walling out,Ce que je murais dedans ou en dehors,
And to whom I was like to give offense.Et à qui j’allais donné offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,Il y a quelque chose ici qui n’aime pas un mur,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,Qui le veut démoli. Je pourrais lui dire ‘Elfes’,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d ratherMais ce ne sont pas exactement des elfes, et je préfère
He said it for himself. I see him thereIl l’a dit pour lui-même. je le vois là
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the topApporter une pierre fermement saisie par le haut
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.Dans chaque main, comme un sauvage armé de vieille pierre.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,Il se déplace dans les ténèbres comme il me semble,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.Pas de bois uniquement et l’ombre des arbres.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,Il n’ira pas derrière les paroles de son père,
And he likes having thought of it so wellEt il aime y avoir si bien pensé
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’Il répète encore: « Les bonnes clôtures font les bons voisins.

I hope you enjoyed this poem as much as I did.

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