Today is the birthday of Robert Frost, who was born on March 26, 1874. His poems make us think of rural New England, but he was born in San Francisco.
Here is the poem he read at the inauguration of President Kennedy in January 1961.
The poet died in Boston two years later, on January 29, 1963. The president was assassinated a few months later in Dallas, in November 1963.
In this poem, which he read at Kennedy’s inauguration, Frost pays homage to America and the patriots who fought in the War of Independence.
The Gift Outright
By Robert Frost
The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.