# Not to protest, but -

On roaming paths I put a break,

A nation's dream, I fill its shape;

A rascal's drudging work I take,

And all my kind, good neighbors make.

What am I?

• Please. Dont tell me the answer is Hong Kong people. – Omega Krypton Sep 11 at 23:16

I'm pretty sure you are

a FENCE.

On roaming paths I put a break,


(Literally.)

A nation's dream, I fill its shape;


I didn't understand this line at all, but in comments tmpearce makes the very plausible suggestion that the line refers to "the American Dream", in its incarnation as a suburban house and garden surrounded by a white picket fence.

A rascal's drudging work I take,


My original interpretation: A fence is a receiver (and seller) of stolen goods. The rascal is a thief. (Not sure I'd exactly call theft "drudging", though maybe it is.) Darrel Hoffman's much better interpretation, in comments: This is a reference to Mark Twain's story of Tom Sawyer tricking his friends into painting a fence for him.

And all my kind, good neighbors make.


"Good fences make good neighbours."

The title -- "Not to protest, but -" -- refers, I think, to

picket fences.

Credit where due:

tmpearce figured out the "American Dream" bit (for which I didn't have any good ideas); Darrel Hoffman figured out the Tom Sawyer bit (for which my alternative interpretation is, I think, kinda OK though clearly inferior).

• For line 2, I suspect it has to do with rot13(Gur "Nzrevpna Qernz" naq "juvgr cvpxrg sraprf" - uggcf://jjj.fzvgufbavnaznt.pbz/uvfgbel/uvfgbel-juvgr-cvpxrg-srapr-180971635/) but I don't quite understand the precise wording of the clue, perhaps it is more nuanced than I'm appreciating – tmpearce Sep 12 at 2:05
• Ah, that's quite possible. – Gareth McCaughan Sep 12 at 2:08
• rot13(Qhevat gur gjragvrgu praghel, gur Nzrevpna Qernz jnf fgebatyl gvrq gb ynaq bjarefuvc naq ubzr bjarefuvc. Fb V nz snveyl pregnva guvf vf pbeerpg.) – Cloudy7 Sep 12 at 2:23
• Not sure whether or not to upvote this answer...really can't make up my mind at all... going back and forth in my head...both sides have value. Definitely on the -----. – Brandon_J Sep 12 at 13:05
• I unmarked this as the answer -- it's not exactly right, though very close -- however, unless you get this exactly right the second and third line will not make any sense. – jackson h Sep 12 at 13:26