Since Robert Frost’s debut of the role of inaugural poet 52 years ago, the list of those who have followed in his footsteps––with two white males, two African-American women, and one openly gay Latino man among them–– comes close to representing the country’s increasingly diverse population.
The following short list includes the poets with the titles of the poems they recited: James Dickey (1977) “The Strength of Fields” (poem recited after actual inauguration ceremony); recipient of the 2013 Literarian Award Maya Angelou (1993) “On the Pulse of Morning”; Miller Williams (1997) “Of History and Hope”; Elizabeth Alexander (2009) “Praise Song for the Day”; and Richard Blanco (2013) “One Day.”
Frost branded his inaugural poem with the same mystically intense passion for the American landscape and character that qualifies many of his other celebrated works. But the poem also serves as a record of the history which poetry itself was making with its inclusion in a definitively political event.
On the day after President Kennedy’s inauguration ceremony, the New York Times published an abbreviated version of Frost’s inaugural poem with the title “The Preface.” Slightly edited versions of the entire poem itself, like the one that follows, exist in a number of collections and pages from one such manuscript may be viewed on the Library of Congress’s American Memory Manuscripts archive site:
Dedication: For John F. Kennedy, His Inauguration,
With Some Preliminary History in Rhyme
To read Robert Frost’s classic poem and this full article by Aberjhani please click the link:
- Text and meaning in Robert Frost’s Dedication: For John F. Kennedy (part 1 of 2) (examiner.com)
- Kennedy Remembers Frost, Champions The Arts (wbur.org)
- John Lundberg: John F. Kennedy and Poetry (huffingtonpost.com)
- John F Kennedy applauded poetry as a potent antidote to power (irishtimes.com)
- The Poet and the President (huffingtonpost.com)
- President John F. Kennedy on Poetry and Robert Frost (masspoetry.org)