When good fences make good neighbors, and Robert Frost was here thanks to Walker Hancock

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Photo without irony. For irony scroll down to see the poem, Mending Wall, by Robert Frost, and for Hancock’s portrait of Frost.

Update: shortly after posting and thanks to Good Morning Gloucester facebook feed and readers, there may be more information coming on the outside-r artist who built such a great fence design. Please send in more information soon. And here is some! Danny Diamond writes: “I painted this octopus (and the rest of the fence) back in October. It belongs to  Jon Just Jon and Lisa Bouchie. The octopus was painted entirely with low-pressure spray-cans.” And Lisa Redbird adds:  “…conceived by Lisa Bouchie, built by Mark (Girard) of Spotless Monkey and spray painted by Danny Diamond. A true artist collaborative…”

Mending Wall

1914 poem by Robert Frost, American poet  (1874-1963), first published in anthology North of Boston

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To  please the yelping dogs. The gaps I made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door-game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines,  I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”  I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go beyond his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Robert Frost sat for Walker Hancock, Gloucester resident, esteemed sculptor and one of the country’s Monuments Men. Frost walked our local woods.

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Artist: Walker Kirtland Hancock, (b.1901-December 30, 1998)
Sitter: Robert Lee Frost, 26 Mar 1874 – 29 Jan 1963
Date: 1969 bronze sculpture cast after 1950 original (collection Amherst)
Dimensions: Without socle or mount: 16 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 10 inches
Collection: National Portrait Gallery

The Robert Frost Farm, Derry, NH (home 1900-1911)

Friends of Robert Frost, So. Shaftsbury, VT

Frost Place in Franconia, NH

Robert Frost Society established in 1978

Robert Frost collection at Amherst College (on the faculty for 40 years; also University of Michigan, Middlebury, Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, among other places) Hancock’s sculpture is in this collection. Sculpture of Frost by artist Penelope Jencks was unveiled in 2007

Robert Frost collection at Dartmouth College (alumnus)

A Frost Bouquet: Robert Frost, His Family, and the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, a digitized rendering of the 1996 exhibition at University of Virginia

Victor E. Reichert Robert Frost Collection, University at Buffalo

Audio of Frost reading poems, Part III includes Mending Wall or here read and listen to Frost’s voice as he recites Mending Wall:

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