FencesIf poets are going to be sensitive to...


July 23, 1995


If poets are going to be sensitive to misinterpretation, they had better switch trades.

But when a famous poem is constantly quoted as meaning its exact opposite, it eventually becomes the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

This camel's back was broken recently on hearing a presidential candidate on Maryland Public Television laying at Robert Frost's feet the sentiment he was rejecting: "Good fences make good neighbors."

For all I know, they do. But Robert Frost wrote his famous poem, "Mending Wall," to say the opposite.

The poem begins, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." The poet adjures his stubborn neighbor that he has no cows and that his apple trees will not get over to eat the neighbor's pine cones.

At the poem's end, he takes on a deeper problem: He says his neighbor, with a boulder in each hand, seems to him like "an old stone savage, moving in darkness of more than trees."

To which the old stone savage merely responds, like a parrot with his favorite phrase: "Good fences make good neighbors" -- an all-too-quotable line.

It's discouraging.

Josephine Jacobsen


Sins of a Few

I was very disturbed to see the cartoon June 22, which was a misleading portrayal of the trucking industry. It was particularly appalling to see the notice at the bottom that reads, "Important News: Trucking Companies Frequently Flaunt Federal Safety Rules". . .

xTC I am sure you must have empirical data to support this indictment. of an industry that employs approximately 2.8 million people.

The truth of the matter is that between 1983 and 1993 the number of miles driven by commercial trucks increased 41 percent, while the fatal accident rate fell 37 percent.

Another interesting fact is that during 1993 more than 1.9 million roadside inspections were performed, and only 5.4 percent of the drivers were placed out of service due to hours-of-service violations.

Donald A. Orr

Farmer City, Ill.

L The writer is president of Roberson Transportation Services.

Serious Problems?

When I read of Congress' attempts to find painless ways to cut the budget, increase military spending, continue tobacco and sugar subsidies and, at the same time, reduce taxes, I am reminded of a remark made by a former foreign minister of France who was recently quoted by Time magazine:

"It is hard to take seriously a nation which has deep problems if they can be fixed by a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline."

Dan Lynch


Jews in Greece

I was really puzzled by the July 9 Perspective article of Scott Ponemone, with the title "A search for Jewish Culture," which I am afraid may lead to some erroneous conclusions with regard to the Jewish presence in my country.

In this respect, I wish to underline that throughout history, Jews in Greece lived happily and prosperously, being a vibrant and integral part of the Greek people.

In World War II, among the hundreds of thousands of victims that my country suffered during its occupation by the Nazis, there were many thousands of Greek Jews, especially in the city of Thessaloniki.

During this dark period, both the people and the authorities of Greece showed unwavering support and tangible solidarity to the horrible drama of their Jewish brothers, a fact recognized and highly praised by the Jewish nation, including the State of Israel, all Jewish organizations worldwide and, moreover, the Greek Jews.

The relative absence of Jewish culture in the city of Thessaloniki is a sad result not only of the Nazi atrocities, but also of the big fire of August 18, 1917.

That fire, a major calamity for the whole city of Thessaloniki, caused the destruction of 4,000 buildings, many of which belonged to the Jewish community, including almost all the historic features that the distinctive Jewish presence had imprinted on the city over the centuries.

Greece has been particularly proud of the traditionally strong bonds of friendship between the Greek and Jewish peoples, as underlined not only by the excellent relations that my country enjoys with the State of Israel, but also by the mutual feelings of esteem, affection and respect between the two nations that manifest themselves on every occasion . . .

Loucas Tsilas


The writer is ambassador of Greece to the United States.

Some Doctors Push Products for Money

I was greatly interested in vascular surgeon Frank Criado's July 9 letter expressing annoyance with dietitian Colleen Pierre's opinions regarding a nutritional supplementation program called

Interior Design Nutritionals Program (IDN).

I take strong issue with this surgeon's statement: "To suggest that some doctors would become involved with this program simply because of the economic opportunity is wrong, untrue and personally offensive."

This is a fact, not a suggestion.

In November 1994 a Towson physician contacted me by phone at the practice where I am employed as a nurse practitioner.

He wanted to speak to me as the current president of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland.

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