Robert Frost

and

J. J. Lankes

Robert Frost met J. J. Lankes in 1923 when Frost lived in Shaftsbury in the Stone House. They collaborated on a piece for The Century Magazine featuring Frost's poem "The Star-Splitter" and a series of woodcuts by Lankes. Their art had many affinities. Both were masters of form and simplicity. Both used local subject matter and employed a realistic style. Frost's tenet, "The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows," applied equally to Lankes. Both were perfectionists in their respective fields of art.

Frost and Lankes continued to collaborate for the next decade. Frost's Pulitzer Prize winning New Hampshire (1923) featured a number of "decorations," as Frost liked to call them. He didn't like having his poems illustrated. The above woodcut of the Stone House was used repeatedly by Frost's publisher Henry Holt on covers and frontispieces as late as 1939.

Lankes lived at the Gulley farm in Shaftsbury for several summers while it was being renovated. The two men were good friends, even though Lankes couldn't get much work done when Frost came around for some "good talk." Lankes drew his landscapes from life and they are geographically correct and recognizable even to this day to folks who live around Shaftsbury. In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in Lankes' work. (Click)

Frost's granddaughter, Elinor Wilber, recently donated a picture of the back of the Stone House taken C. 1928. The back porch and the dormer are shown in original condition. The exterior of the house is unchanged today, except for those two details. Now please enjoy Greetings to our Friends.

 
Winter Night
at the
Stone House
 
"How countlessly they congregate
 
O'er our tumultuous snow,
 
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
 
When wintry winds do blow! - "
 
from "Stars"
by Robert Frost
 
 
 
Courtesy of the Children of J. J. Lankes.
Our thanks to Welford Dunaway Taylor for his incredible collection and scholarship on J. J. Lankes.
Robert Frost and J. J. Lankes: Riders on Pegasus
The Woodcut Art of J. J. Lankes