Carving up the World Again... A Wall and Not a Fence

Album: Carry Fire (2017)

Songfacts®:

  • Here, Robert Plant expresses his dismay at a world going off the tracks. The song finds him railing against, "Emperors and sultans, kings and presidents. Dictators and ambassadors engaged in our defense."
  • Plant described the song to The Sun as a "very quick glimpse at what we've had to do because we have no faith in mankind. We're strange animals because we can do so much good."

    He added: "I heard this morning that someone is intent on colonising Mars, the red planet, and yet if that's possible, how come we're not able to take in the ebb and flow of humanity, brother to brother, side by side, the different languages? We haven't got things right so people are ready to bail."
  • Plant takes aim at xenophobia and the refugee crisis during the song. He told The Independent: "There's progress in many areas of humanity, but it's juxtaposed with doors slamming and pain."
  • The song takes part of its title from a quote by Donald Trump. "It's not just Trump," Plant told The Associated Press. "It's every Trump that's ever been. Every generation and every culture has several Trumps. It's just some are a bit heftier than others. And you've got one hell of a heft over there."
  • Robert Plant addresses during this song the parlous state of post-Brexit, post Trump civilization. "The whole thing is tribal and sad, and I wonder is there any way of getting through it, he told Q Magazine. "That whole thing of 'a wall and not a fence'? We know who said that - the 21st century schizoid man."
  • Robert Plant bemoans the intrusion of politicians that he feels have throughout history have erected false borders around people.

    The Russians, the Americans, the British and the French
    They're carving up the world again, it's getting kind of tense
    A whole lotta posture and very little sense
    It's no surprise they hide behind a wall and not a fence


    Plant told American Songwriter in a 2018 interview: "I was talking with somebody the other day about geography and the history of different countries' boundaries, and they told me that when the British were carving up the Empty Quarter [in what is now Saudi Arabia], they were in a gentleman's club in London. They took a map and drew some lines left and right, and there's one country that has a bit of a bulge in its delineation. That's because somebody set his glass of gin on the map. So they just drew around it. That's how f---ed up things are. Not every boundary was created with a gin glass, but it could be as trivial as that when you own the world."

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