Robert Frost & the JFK Inauguration

Brian Williams in 2006 reported on the back story of Robert Frost’s poem written for President Kennedy. See the clip of Frost reading and find out what happened.

This is our Robert Frost of the Merrimack Valley, who grew up in  Lawrence and graduated from Lawrence High School.

Here’s the poem Frost recited from memory because the sun reflecting off his typed sheet prevented him from reading the poem he wrote for the day:

The Gift Outright

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.