Fences are things by which places are the more clearly known, as Enisian says plainly. And I humbly add that places can be known somewhat by the place that places are explained in this same book. But here we will speak in some detail concerning fences, so that by the understanding of simple things we may begin little and little to know what was before unknown.
Men say that “Fences” comes from “Defences,” that is, in the old sense, things built to keep wild beasts and wicked men from getting in to plunder and ravage and destroy. But in these days fencers say that fences are chiefly constructed to keep tamed beasts from getting out. In the far regions by the source of the Knarry some fences are made from stones put cleverly together, but in the most part fences are made from wood, and that in sections of similar length, so that upon its breaking a section may be readily replaced. And most fences are made by posts which are driven into the ground with great force and by boards which are attached across them to prevent anyone from walking between them. For even the simple agree that a fence is not properly a fence unless its posts are connected by some solid means.
And fencers say that fencing is an ancient and noble art. For a fence watches that its place might not be confused with another, either by accident or purpose, by anyone, animal or man, and a fencer watches the fence that it might properly carry out its design. Both fencer and fence spend many days at the edges of places, so all fencers carry a light sword, because the edges of some places are uncertain even when fenced, and the times have often been evil.
A fence may be painted, for the pleasure of the eye or also for the purpose of preserving the wood, which in wet places quickly rots. And it is profitable that a fencer may paint, for the reason that along the way he can also straighten and repair what is crooked or broken in the fence, so also straightening and repairing for the moment what is crooked or broken in his thought when he is not painting it away into the cracks and knots and rough grain of the dry wood. And with practiced brush strokes time and sorrow can for a while be painted there too. But Nog son of Nous and Efnisian say that there is no true cure for broken thoughts and crooked in any thing men do. And shortly to say, they are firm in the hope that the Maker is able to make straight what is painfully crooked — and has indeed already begun. So fencing is not only good work for the sad, but for the ones with joy too.