Thursday, January 21, 2021

Poetry on Thursday

The Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris yesterday got me thinking about inaugural poetry. I thought it was a long-standing tradition, but only four presidents have had poets read at their inaugurations, John F. Kennedy in 1961, Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013, and Joe Biden yesterday. I read all six inaugural poems and chose Robert Frost's "The Gift Outright" as my personal favorite. It has an interesting story behind it as an inaugural poem and you can find out more about it in the links below.

The Gift Outright
Poem Recited at John F. Kennedy's Inauguration
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 will become.

You can read more about Robert Frost and the inaugural poem he recited here.
You can read "Dedication", the poem Robert Frost wrote for the inauguration here
Read all the inaugural poems here

I wish you mindfulness, peace, good health, and the power of poetry as this week winds down.


  1. Robert Frost has always been a favorite of mine. I found Amanda Gorman's poem (and especially her reading of it) astonishing yesterday - so powerful and just wonderful.

  2. Beautiful! I though Amanda Gorman was incredible yesterday. And I have a signed copy of Maya Angelou's poem from Clinton's 1993 inauguration, "On the Pulse of Morning" in my office.

  3. I have a signed copy of On the Pulse of the Morning as well! It is a treasured possession! I had not read this poem by Robert Frost and I think I need to get a book of his poetry! (but yesterday... that 22 year old brilliant writer was just a shining wonder!)

  4. Finally, a poem I know! (But I feel like I cheated a bit -- back in my junior year of high school, we did a term project on an American writer and I chose Frost, so to prepare to write my term paper, I read every poem he ever wrote.)

    I absolutely adored the poem that Amanda Gorman read yesterday. She is unbelievably talented. I am going to preorder the printed version today (it's on Amazon, but I'm going to order from an independent bookstore).

  5. Thank-you for sharing that poem Bonny and the links! Amanda Gorman...another indication that we're going to be okay! xo

  6. I thought it was a tradition as well, Bonny. I thought Amanda Gorman was amazingly good for her tender age. I saw her interview on NPR, and she is a very mature and self-possessed young woman. I think we will be seeing a lot of her.

  7. Oh I want to read ALL the inaugural poems. That's my goal for the week! Thanks

  8. thank you for the poem! I loved Amanda's poem and keep listening to it.

  9. Amanda Gorman was so incredible, her poignant words and flawless delivery were just stunning. Stay safe.


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment! :-)