“Good fences make good neighbors.”
— Mike Pence, defending the need for a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico
This old saying appears in the poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. However, in the poem, it was ironic. I have taken the liberty of updating the poem so Mike Pence can quote it without embarrassment:
Something there is that wants to build a wall,
That feels a moral-ground-swell under it,
And wants to make it steel or slats or stone;
To seal gaps even two can pass abreast,
To stop the things that make folks want to come.
There is no reason that there’s not one now.
There ought to be; a river’s not enough.
That there are gaps in popular support
For walls confuses me. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen or heard them made,
And yet we find them at shut-downing-time.
Some folks can’t see what makes the need of it;
There is no rising tide that they can spot
That threatens overflow into the land.
The numbers crossing it, in fact, are down
From prior years, but there’s a logic there
That goes past logic. If we cannot see
The crossings, well, it means they’ve gotten smart
And learned invisibility. We need the wall, no doubt.
My neighbor says he plans to make the wall
So that no drugs or people may pass through.
“But how,” I want to ask him, “may that be?”
My neighbor will pay for the wall, he knows,
There where we are we surely need the wall.
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees could, likely, get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
There is no mischief in me, and I agree.
He has a wise, good notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? No. It is everywhere.
Before I build a wall I never ask
Whom I am walling in or walling out.
A fence, we know, can never give offense.
Nothing there is that doesn’t love a wall.
We all love walls. Eat walls. Breathe walls. Live walls.
Our dreams are full of walls, that reach the sky.
We waken in the shadow of the wall. The wall is all we see.
Level and long and stretching all the way
Past the horizon closed securely off.
It keeps strange suns so snugly out of reach,
Blocks out their warmth. Let’s call a wall a wall.
God, I love walls so much." He picks up rocks.
It seems to me that he is more evolved
Than he has ever been, when he grips rocks
And piles them up to keep a stranger out.
He moves in darkness, as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees,
And that is great, I really think that’s great!
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
Nor should he; what was good enough for Dad
Is good enough for me, from measles to
The general threat of Nazis. Good. We need
The wall. We’ve got to build the wall. And I agree.
Good Pences make good neighbors.
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