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Poets and novelists often include a short quotation at the beginning of

their work. These epigraphs—“writing above”—both set up the work’s
thematic interests and also position the writer in a centuries-old
conversation with other writers: an entangling of words and minds.

Communities Large and Small

Mending Wall / Robert Frost

Every year, two neighbors meet to repair the stone wall that divides their
property. The narrator is skeptical of this tradition, unable to understand
the need for a wall when there is no livestock to be contained on the
property, only apples and pine trees. He does not believe that a wall
should exist simply for the sake of existing.

In terms of form, “Mending Wall” is not structured with stanzas; it is a

simple forty-five lines of first-person narrative.

In the poem itself, Frost creates two distinct characters who have
different ideas about what exactly makes a person a good neighbor. The
narrator deplores his neighbor’s preoccupation with repairing the wall;
he views it as old-fashioned and even archaic.
Despite the narrator’s skeptical view of the wall, the neighbor maintains
his seemingly “old-fashioned” mentality, responding to each of the
narrator’s disgruntled questions and rationalizations with nothing more
than the adage: “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Ultimately, the presence of the wall between the properties does ensure
a quality relationship between the two neighbors. By maintaining the
division between the properties, the narrator and his neighbor are able
to maintain their individuality and personal identity as farmers: one of
apple trees, and one of pine trees. The act of meeting to repair the wall
allows the two men to develop their relationship and the overall
community far more than if each maintained their isolation on separate

No Man is an Island | John Donne

In this poem, John Donne explores the idea of the connectedness of

people. People are not isolated islands. We are all a part of a larger thing,
and if one person dies, everyone is affected. Donne is approaching death.
Hearing a church bell signifying a funeral, he observes that every death
diminishes the large fabric of humanity. We are all in this world together,
and we ought to use the suffering of others to learn how to live better so
that we are better prepared for our own death, which is merely a
translation to another world.

Donne uses an interesting image when he considers how God is the

“author” of every person and every death: “all mankind is of one author,
and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the
book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be
so translated.” Whether a man dies of old age, in battle, from disease or
accident, or even through the actions of the state dispensing its idea of
justice, God has in a sense decided the terms of each death. As universal
author, God will bind together these various “translated” pages, each
man a chapter, into a volume which is open to all. In the new universal
“library” of mankind, “every book shall lie open to one another.” Yet all
of this imagery takes up only one sentence, and Donne returns in the
next sentence to the meaning of the bell.

At the opening of the second paragraph, Donne returns to his idea that
“no man is an island,” indicating that everyone is connected to every
other human being in some way.

Donne concludes by stating that his meditation is not an effort to

“borrow misery,” since everyone has enough misery for his life.

The Map of the World Confused with Its Territory | Susan Stewart
“What does the body remember at

dusk? That the palms of the hands are a map

of the world, erased and drawn again and

Again, then covered with rivers and earth”.

The Map of the World Confused with Its Territory | Susan Stewart

The map–territory relation describes the relationship between an object

and a representation of that object, as in the relation between a
geographical territory and a map of it.

Maps | Yesenia Montilla

Maps touches beautifully on how borders can be sites of actual violence

in people’s lives. Though some of us may have the luxury of seeing
contentions over borders as an ideological battleground, many people
across the world have their lives impacted daily by arbitrary lines drawn
across territories. This poem specifically sheds light on a friend of
Yesenia’s, whose family was torn apart by border and immigration
Montilla blends landscapes of both body and map to express the physical
impact of the concept of borders. There is a visceral thread surging
through the poem, which lends life to a theme which can seem far away
to some of us.

“Maps” by Yesenia Montilla, explores the craving for a more natural,

simple world, to escape the feeling of being trapped in a society confined
to overbearing sets of rules. Montilla captures this by comparing the
world to a map, and in its drawn borders we are trapped and can’t pursue
happiness, “I wish maps would be without borders & that we belong to
no one & to everyone at once”.

Yertle the Turtle | Dr Seuss

Yertle the Turtle is hands down the worst kind of turtle. He's the one who
bosses everyone around just so that he can have the best view in the
pond. And he lives in a pond, so it's not even all that swanky. He
commands all of the other turtles to do as he pleases and gets all, "Oh
no you didn't" when anybody questions him.

The eponymous story revolves around Yertle the Turtle, the king of the
pond. Dissatisfied with the stone that serves as his throne, he commands
the other turtles to stack themselves beneath him so that he can see
farther and expand his kingdom. However, the stacked turtles are in pain
and Mack, the turtle at the very bottom of the pile, is suffering the most.
Mack asks Yertle for a respite, but Yertle just tells him to be quiet. Then
Yertle decides to expand his kingdom and commands more and more
turtles to add to his throne. Mack makes a second request for a respite
because the increased weight is now causing extreme pain to the turtles
at the bottom of the pile, as well as hunger. Again, Yertle yells at Mack
to be quiet. Then Yertle notices the moon rising above him as the night
approaches. Furious that something "dares to be higher than Yertle the
King", he decides to call for even more turtles in an attempt to rise above
it. However, before he can give the command, Mack decides he has had
enough. He burps, which takes away Yertle's throne and tosses the turtle
king off the turtle stack and into the water, leaving him "King of the Mud"
and freeing the others.

From | Fatimah Asghar & Eve L. Ewing

 For Want of a Nail | Proverb

"For Want of a Nail" is a proverb, having numerous variations over

several centuries, reminding that seemingly unimportant acts or
omissions can have grave and unforeseen consequences.

The proverb has come down in many variations over the centuries. It
describes a situation in which a failure to anticipate or correct some
initially small dysfunction leads by successively more critical stages to an
egregious outcome. The rhyme's implied small difference in initial
conditions is the lack of a spare horseshoe nail, relative to a condition of
its availability.[1] At a more literal level, it expresses the importance
of military logisticsin warfare.

Remember | Joy Harjo

The poem aims at instilling a sense of gratitude in us towards everything

that constitutes our environment. It underscores the point how
inextricably we are linked to one another and the natural environment.
To achieve peace and harmony, it’s important that we do “remember”
how we owe our existence to all that constitute the environment – from
our parents to plants, trees and animals; from the sky to the earth.

In “Remember” by Joy Harjo, we are taught two things: to acknowledge

and never forget all the life around us and the life before us. It is a poem
in which a series of instructions to advance and enhance a person’s life
are provided; it gives a sense of ability to survive in the modern world.
The poet uses metaphor to let us know that we should love this universe
as we love our selves. This poem doesn't has a special structure . The
poet tells us that we should remember our nature. It's about the people's
life cycle. This poem can relate to all of us. Most of us forget what some
people do for us or we forget what our surroundings look like or what
are they made up.

The Answer | Robinson Jeffers

“Long live freedom and damn the ideologies!”

The poetry of Robinson Jeffers is emotionally direct, magnificently

musical, and philosophically profound. No one has ever written more
powerfully about the natural beauty of the American West. Determined
to write a truthful poetry purged of ephemeral things, Jeffers cultivated
a style at once lyrical, tough-minded, and timeless.

Much of Jeffers' poetry was written in narrative and epic form, but he is
also known for his shorter verse and is considered an icon of the
environmental movement.

In The Answer, one gets the sense that Jeffers could see the gathering

To Jeffers there is one way not to drown in either despair or delusion:

keep integrity, remember that the whole is beautiful, and that reality
unfolds the way it will, the ugliness is necessary, even if we can’t
understand why or how at any given point in time. We need to cling to
our integrity, honor and mercy, and avoid as much as possible the
violence and anger that consumes so many.

Encounter | Czeslaw Milosz

It is extraordinary that ‘Encounter’ is separated by 35 years from Milosz’s

poem ‘Gift’ (the piece I started these reflections with) and yet seems to
have so much in common with it. It is as though ‘Gift’ closes a small circle
in his work which, for me, is more successful than the large orbits of his
other grander pieces. With ‘Encounter’ he makes use of the same simple
and direct style as found in the later poem. And like that poem, it is
incredible how far he takes the reader in such a short interval.

The one feature that clearly distinguishes the two poems is the time-
frame in which the poem exists and this difference gives rise to a
difference in form. ‘Gift’ is one moment, and that moment is lived
through in one stanza which holds it together. That poem does have a
simple sequential quality, but it is not just a sequence of events – it is a
sequence of images and feelings.

With ‘Encounter’ Milosz is dealing with memory and events separated by

a great gap in time – or perhaps more correctly, the one event looked at
twice from different times. And this event is not so much one moment
but one moment interrupted by a happening – the quiet monotonous
motion of the wagon and the thoughts of those travelling on it, jolted as
a hare flashes across the road in front of them.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles | Sally Wen Mao

Four stanzas that don’t so much have a story but a whirling round of
emotions that suggest overthinking of a long thought through subject.

"'Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles' is taken from a sign I found outside
a hostel in Lijiang, China, a beautiful city in the Yunnan province. It was a
sign with the English phrase, the number 2418 and Chinese characters,
which were indistinguishable to me. I imagine traveling for 2,418 miles
alone, and at the time, I think I'd traveled even further than that, going
halfway around the world in utter silence. The beauty and loneliness of
those experiences will stay with me my whole life, and that's why I wrote
this poem." — Sally Wen Mao
Ophelia Jubran