Mending Wall Historical Context

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The History of the "good Fences" Proverb

Robert Frost did not invent the proverb, "Good fences make good neighbours" with his poem "Mending Wall." The saying began long before the poem was published, in communities all around the world. According to Wolfgang Meider in an article in Folklore, translations include "There must be a fence between good neighbours" in Norwegian; "Between neighbours' gardens a fence is good" in German; "Build a fence even between intimate friends" in Japanese; "Love your neighbour, but do not throw down the dividing wall" in Hindi; and "Love your neighbour, but put up a fence" in Russian. The phrase even relates back to a late medieval Latin proverb, "Bonum est erigere dumos cum vicinis," or "It is good to erect hedges with the neighbours."

In April 1754, Benjamin Franklin told the readers of his Poor Richard's Almanack to "Love thy Neighbour; yet don't pull...

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