November 24, 2016

The Gift Outright "(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)"


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.

-- Delivered at the Kennedy Inauguration

Posted by Vanderleun at November 24, 2016 10:19 AM
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Thank you for posting this (and, well, everything!). I'll be 65 in a couple of weeks and remember seeing Mr. Frost struggling to read this, in glaring light, wind and cold, at the Inauguration. If memory serves, he was unable to finish the poem. But what a moment of promise. And to watch such a wonderful quiet man play his part.

Posted by: David at November 24, 2016 3:48 PM