Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 33: Blank Verse: Mending Wall

by Robert Frost

lesson image

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 neighbor 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 neighbors.'

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

'Why do they make good neighbors? 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 offense.

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 neighbors.'

    Poetic Forms Poetic Forms    

Lesson 33: Blank Verse: Mending Wall

by Robert Frost


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the poem each day.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poetic form.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


"Good fences make good neighbors" from Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall," has become a famous adage. Two neighbors walk along the wall separating their properties, making repairs as they go. The narrator feels the wall is unnecessary, but his neighbor believes "Good fences make good neighbors." The poem is written in blank verse and does not rhyme. Although it does not strictly adhere to iambic pentameter, it presents a pleasant rhythm along the way.


Poems often adhere to specific poetic forms, defined as 'poems following distinct sets of rules.'

The nine poetic forms we'll study include the:

  1. Sijo: A lyrical Korean poetic form of three long lines.
  2. Haiku: A Japanese poem of three lines and a total of seventeen syllables.
  3. Limerick: A humorous poem of five lines and the rhyming scheme AABBA, typically having syllables of 9–9–6–6–9.
  4. Sonnet: A poetic form of fourteen lines that follow one of a few common rhyming schemes.
  5. Epitaph: A poem honoring the deceased, engraved on a burial marker or tomb.
  6. Acrostic: A poem where particular letter spell out a secret message, often the first letter of each line.
  7. Visual: A poem written in such a way that the lines form a pattern, usually related to the subject-matter of the poem.
  8. Ode: A poem honoring and/or celebrating something or someone.
  9. Blank Verse: A poetic form with regular meter, particularly iambic pentameter, but no fixed rhyme scheme.

Blank verse poems generally follow these rules:

  1. Have a regular meter or rhythm, such as iambic pentameter.
  2. Do not follow a rhyming scheme (e.g. no AABBCC)

Blank verse typically follows iambic pentameter, but other rhythms are possible.

  1. Iambic Pentameter: da-DUM
  2. Trochee (pronounced 'TRO-key'): DUM-da
  3. Anapaest: da-da-DUM
  4. Dactyl: DUM-da-da


Activity 1: Recite the Poem Title, Poet Name, and Poem

  • Each day this week, recite aloud the title of the poem, the name of the poet, and the poem.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Narrate the Poem

  • After reading the poem, narrate the poem concepts aloud using your own words.

Activity 4: Feel the Rhythm

  • Practice reciting the following blank verse rhythms aloud.
  • da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM (Iambic Pentameter)
  • DUM-da, DUM-da, DUM-da, DUM-da, DUM-da (Trochee)
  • da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM, da-da-DUM (Anapest)
  • DUM-da-da, DUM-da-da, DUM-da-da, DUM-da-da, DUM-da-da (Dactyl)

Activity 5: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 36 of 'Elementary Poetry 6: Poetic Forms.'


  1. 'Iambic Pentameter.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.
  2. 'Trochee.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.
  3. 'Anapaest.' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.
  4. 'Dactyl (poetry).' Wikipedia. Wikipedia.org. n.p.