There was no Poetry or Poet Laureate at the Inauguration. I am pleased. Do you remember the drivel from May Angelou, the gibberish from Elizabeth Alexander and the rubbish from Richard Blanco?
Long gone at the days of a Robert Frost in 1961. He had written a poem for the occasion, “For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration”. However, the light was so bright and it was so cold that he couldn’t read it. Frost therefore recited from memory “The Gift Outright”, which he wrote 20 years earlier.
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.