poet Robert Frost cast a cold eye on the walls that divide mankind literally
and figuratively in his famed poem Mending
Wall. The verse, with its ambiguous, but subtle character, has been
understood from different perspectives ever since it appeared in the book North of Boston in 1914. The enduring
poem has reflected such walls, particularly the Berlin Wall, which divided the
capitalist Western from Communist Eastern Europe. But the wall, whose collapse
has killed 17 people at Nadur in Mettupalayam, is just a ‘wall’ and nothing
more than that. The most surprising information,
which the stories failed to highlight, was that the wall being taller than the
introduces two neighbours in his Mending
Wall. Of them, one is against the concept of walls dividing people and the
other believing in it for making good neighbours. Though it was difficult to
discover Robert Frost’s stance on constructing walls, Lawrence Raab, a poet-critic,
finally cracked the puzzle in a line from the poem “Something that undermines
walls in winter is ‘frost’” Raab assumes that Robert Frost, by using the word ‘frost ‘in the
line, hints at his stance against constructing walls.
have played active roles in dividing people and causing bloodshed on earth.
According to the Illiad the high and
steep walls of Troy withstood a ten-year siege by the Greeks. The walls must
have watched the decade-long battle between the Greeks and Trojans resulting in
numerous deaths. The Great Wall of China too developed from border
fortifications and castles of individual Chinese kingdoms, which were with the
threat of barbarian raids and invasions.
some walls were beautiful as the mud-baked walls of a house, on which, the
villagers, with candles and lanterns, threw their ‘giant scorpion shadows’ when
they searched for a scorpion that stung a woman by the night in the popular
poem Night of the Scorpian by Nissim
mud-baked wall in a village took the glory of a Kongu folk epic to new
Beck, the Canadian anthropologist, who came to the village Olapalayam near
Kangeyam in 1965, documented the complete Kongu folk epic – the Annanmar Kadhai. Titling it as The Legend of Ponnivala, she got the
oral tale digitalized and made it available even in tabs and smart phones.
remember that there were about 50 people sitting in a semicircle on the ground and
enjoying the performance of Annanmar
Kadhai that night. As Olapalayam was an un-electrified village then, the folklorist
performed the show in the light of a Theepantham
(flambeau). I observed the vivid movements of his giant shadow fall on the
wall behind him. The scene triggered an idea in me that I should make Annanmar Kadhai into an animated form
some time in future” Beck said.
interesting to trace another wall on the eastern borders of Kongunadu. The Chera,
Chola and Pandya kings once held a meeting at Chellandiamman Temple at
Madukkarai near Kulittalai of
Tiruchirapalli and built a rampart, stretching from Madukkarai till Kollimalai
to demarcate their jurisdictions. Nevertheless, the myth-loving people of Tamil
Nadu still believe that the ‘Madukkarai Wall’ was erected
in an overnight by Goddess Chellandiamman !
Coimbatore too has a ‘Madukkarai’ on its western border. Located at
the very opening of the Palakkad Gap, Madhukkarai,
as its Tamil expression literally suggests, is not an ‘embankment of wine’, but
corruption of ‘Madhil Karai’ (wall built to mark a region’s boundary). Like the
Chellandiamman Temple at the Madukkarai of Kulittalai, the shrine of the same
deity is found in the Madukkarai of Coimbatore too.
Wall, the Walls of Troy, the Great Wall of China, the Madukkarai Wall and the
now-demolished Wall of Nadur can never be as beautiful as the wall in Night of the Scorpion, and the wall that
depicted the giant shadows of the performing folklorist.