A fence is what we use to promote privacy, to keep others out. In this poem “A Fence” by Carl Sandburg, the symbol of the poem is the fence he is writing about. Furthermore, not simply the fence but rather the properties of the fence. The symbol of the deathly properties of this fence, its ability to ward people off relate to the larger meaning of the poem which I believe to be the authors representation of a person building a fence around their personal life. Someone who keeps”iron bars with steel points” up around them at all times that can “stab the life out of any man who falls on them” essentially symbolizing the death of any forms of relationships from those who try to cross the barrier of the fence. One who shuts off those around them including “vagabonds, hungry men, and wandering children”. Essentially, it is describing a heartless person who has distanced and blocked themselves off from the world.
Carl Sandburg writes; “The palings are made of iron bars with steel points that can stab the life out of any man”. This line is central to the larger meaning of the poem in that it depicts the the type of fence that’s being built and at the same time symbolizes what this fence can do to people, to life, and essentially to relationships with others.