Old-stone savage

Ecology Matters by Duke Vasey

In "Mending Wall," a stone wall separates the speaker's property from his neighbor's. In spring, the two meet to walk the wall and jointly make repairs. The speaker sees no reason for the wall to be kept--there are no cows to be contained, just apple and pine trees. He does not believe in walls for the sake of walls. The neighbor resorts to an old adage: "Good fences make good neighbors." The speaker remains unconvinced and mischievously presses the neighbor to look beyond the old-fashioned folly of such reasoning. His neighbor will not be swayed. The speaker envisions his neighbor as a holdover from a justifiably outmoded era, a living example of a dark-age mentality. But the neighbor simply repeats the adage.

Among my favorite Robert Frost poems is "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" because it awakened my imagination and allowed an inner conversation only experienced by stopping to take-in the surroundings. This poem was a starting point of individual ecological thinking that coupled my experiences with problems. Frost made me imagine Florida's mysterious environment for the first time and made me fully conscious of what I was doing and where I am:

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year...
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The silence of nature communicates most effectively to the soul. In this brief moment of self-consciousness the narrator becomes a self-reflective person, an autonomous individual with an awakened power of imagination. Until this very moment, he is indeed very much like the 'savage' neighbor in `Mending Wall,’ because he was carried forward by the inertia of his life. Always on the go, he never slowed down to 'smell the roses.' He might even not be able to smell roses anymore, having lost his senses and his imagination after such a long while not using them....

A pause for a momentary inspection, introspection and retrospection is necessary for us to resume our role, which may fall asleep under the spell of our energy-depleting lives. So this 'simple' poem reveals how we should not just blindly rush or push ourselves, but pause for humanity-enriching moments of reflective silence, through the mysterious, 'magic' mediation of nature.

When is the last time you walked in the woods or along a path to take in nature and use your imagination?

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