Walls in Poetry: And the Wall Came Down: A Poem
Walls we make as Youth and Adults
Humanity has a repeating cycle of experiences and events which gives us universal themes and concepts for establishing and maintaining societies. In youth we seek to be more independent, pushing the limits of what we can and can’t do before becoming emancipated adults. We question and challenge. We want the reassurance of parents but the freedom to assert ourselves. We want love from others while seeking what that means to us. Essentially, we strive to build without demolishing what has been stable for us since birth.
The poem below was inspired by constructive dialogue I had with a fellow poet on this site, Mark Tulin, who reminded us skillfully in his work: We have to tear those walls down and get on with being human. I've also included different meanings of the appearance of walls in literature. Enjoy: And the Wall Came Down.
What type of outdoor shelter did you build with friends as a youth?
And the Wall Came Down
String them up!
Boots martial marching midway
Lines lean swinging left and right,
People in tents singing right to left,
Men, women, babies-human contents,
Ordered to line up.
Hang them up.
Headaches stressing branches,
Tied to forms in trees of paperwork,
Jerking side to side,
Like clothes on a line,
Hanging in the desert to dry.
What’s the scuttlebutt?
Walls of water can’t build a border,
Ships are female but not a daughter,
Cast an anchor do again the slaughter.
Ring them up?
Roots partial searching for Golden Rule,
Not found in obvious rule of gold.
Lines angled top to bottom stinging my hands and yours,
Purchase low and lower still until the fallen are down.
Or beneath a wall.
Bang them up.
Lines T-cells surrounding barricades,
Incarcerating sickness cannot stay,
Engulfing infection on that terrible day,
Alas A cold caught me,
Under blanket securing shut off from the world,
Walled off from the oaks, cedars, birds and squirrels,
Fenced in wanting virus thrown out.
Hang it up!
Boundary still in China to mighty Rome,
Going forward to Jericho barrier,
And even my sniffles-
Eventually fell to tonics.
Dream us up.
I saw bustling Berlin once,
Strolling with ice warring shoes,
Fighting the coming chill,
In a ring pretending a line,
Drawing a wall to stop the freeze.
I vote a hammer,
Ballot a bulldozer,
Apathy mixes concrete,
Sympathy brings nails,
And history carries coffins.
Down standing up.
Shaking in cold bedroom covering tonight:
Embracing threads so colorful and white,
Singing my healthy grandchild to sleep,
Tale Humpty on horse named Troy,
Hug them up.
Arms two lines forming a circle,
Tribes in house separated by nations,
Enclosures invisible to heart.
Making rows of trees bend,
Oaks, cedar, pine,
North, west, east, south:
All without directions:
Holding wall sagging line firm.
Digging up My Youth and Filling in Adult Awareness
One of my construction activities as a youth involved digging a tunnel near the forest where we dwelled. My friends and I dug about three feet under the earth, fortifying walls, and even placing candles and electric lights in the twenty feet long environment. This was inspired after reading about the hobbits and other classics. I would sneak away in that place with my favorite Asimov novel or book of poetry and relax. Often, I took my comic books and imagined I was a superhero, saving the world from impending disaster.
However, the tunnel collapsed, walls giving in to the force of gravity, as our youthful pursuits took us elsewhere in life. But my need to monitor walls of insecurity and exclusion internally and externally remained as I matured. I struggled to fight tunnel vision, keeping my vision focused in order to avoid stumbling into a hole or running into visible and invisible obstacles. Along the way, literature provided some of the tools to keep those walls at a minimum.
Wall symbolism in Literary Works
- The use of walls in artistic works can indicate physical separation. They can also show a barrier to intimacy in the characters or a community. Walls may be symbols of the limits of a community’s or character’s tolerance. These structures are synonymous with an impasse in literature.
- Some artistic works may incorporate walls to show social instability. They can also represent personal insecurity or comfort, which may be flawed in some manner. Walls can be portrayed as obstacles to action. In literature, walls can symbolize the horrors hidden inside of us.
- Some works may use walls to show deterioration of mental health. Or the situation could be reversed. For Instance, a wall could indicate an author is drawing attention to the fact a character or community is protecting overall well-being. Walls can demonstrate fear of “the other,” eventually leading to dealing with fears of self.
- Nevertheless, creative individuals may find unique ways to use these structures in their work. The meaning of any symbol may change as the novel, poem, or other literary creation moves forward. for this reason, the reader should examine the text with care to understand what the author is communicating.