At Frost's Cabin, Ripton, Vermont
July 12, 1953
Selection (2 p.) from typed manuscript. RBMS / C-4 / Cook, Reginald Lansing, 1903 – 1984 / Verbatim, vol. 2.

At 8:00 p.m. I drove down to the Homer Noble place, taking the Jesse Stuarts to meet Frost. The Stuarts were taking in the lay-out of the farmstead: the old barn, the house, and the narrow footpath leading up the lane to the Cabin, and the tall, lovely hollyhocks, the fireweeds, the button chrysanthemums in Frost's little flower garden by a wall that closes the entry to the lane to keep intruders' cars out. We stopped at the vegetable garden in front of the cabin, noting the electric wiring to keep the deer out, and we looked at the mountain view to the south and west.

Inside the cabin, Jesse Stuart plied Frost with questions. He asked about Frost's lecture trips. Frost said: "I call it barding around," and told of how nicely they treated him at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, and at the University of North Carolina. About keeping engagements, he said: "I'm one of the most regular men who ever went down the pike." He appeared where and when he was supposed to. Said he'd get off the train in Grand Central to keep an engagement at the New School of Social Research and start to walk, zig-zagging with the changing street lights, until it got near the time for his appearance, then he would step into a taxi and complete the trip, arriving on the hour.

How much land did Frost have? About 200 acres. Stuart owned about six or seven hundred acres in W-Hollow, at Green-up, Kentucky. About property, Frost said "I'm dangerous to take anywhere. I want to buy what I see, and especially a lonely place."

What did Mr. Frost think of Milton? Here the ever-ready Frost made an expert parry. "I never bother with monuments as big as that," replied Frost dryly.

They talked of writing and Frost mentioned how he had seen Vachel Lindsay cutting out sections of his poems to satisfy an editor or because certain parts hadn't seemed to go well in a reading. Lindsay claimed he could tell how well certain sections work: "Nobody ever touches the poem for me."

"Do you use scrapbooks?" "No, I don't keep anything," said Frost.

They talked about health. "I'm tough," remarked Frost. Then he told of meeting a woman (now in her middle nineties) out in California who had known him when he was young. "I wasn't thought to be very strong," and this woman told him that the family hadn't thought he would live to grow up.

On going to England in 1912. Since England was cheaper to live in, he said: "What I went there for was to be poor—not to be literary. I was a wanderer in those days."

Of Edgar Lee Masters: "He was hostile to me; a dark, somber person."

Speaking of a writer's drive for fame (with Masters in mind), he said: "It's such a gamble of what's going to happen to a person in the end."

Of New York City. "l wear out very fast in it."

What of Yeats: Frost and Stuart agreed that the early Yeats' lyrics were better than the later poems. Frost thought that Yeats, like Masters, was a bitter man at the end. "Times he was in agony of silence," said Frost, and he referred to Yeats' saying, "All I'll remember is sweating blood and biting pencils"' in an effort to write.

Frost told how "The Lone Striker" had come out of personal experience. He'd been shut out of the mill, and he turned to teach in the district (ironically he said dee-streak) school. He told how in the early teaching experience for two year he had to teach thirty-five hours a week, how he arrived home and lay down for a couple of hours in a kind of stupor from fatigue. Since he was a beginning teacher they made him a slave.