Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 17 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Rasso of Grafrath
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

‘The Gift Outright’: Hear Robert Frost recite his legendary poem

J-P Mauro - published on 05/05/17

It's always better hearing poetry in the voice of the poet.

In 1961, JFK had just won a historically close political contest. At the suggestion of his staff, Kennedy approached Robert Frost, then consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, to read “The Gift Outright” or write an original poem in honor of the day. Brainpickings.org has the telegram Frost sent in response:

If you can bear at your age the honor of being made president of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration. I may not be equal to it but I can accept it for my cause — the arts, poetry — now for the first time taken into the affairs of statesmen. … I am glad the invitation pleases your family. It will please my family to the fourth generation and my family of friends and, were they living, it would have pleased inordinately the kind of Grover Cleveland Democrats I had for parents.

Yes, Frost wrote a wonderful poem and intended on reading it during this momentous occasion. Unfortunately, due to the sun’s glare, he could not see the words on the page. Instead he switched to plan B and recited from memory “The Gift Outright” which was well received. Brainpickings points out that Kennedy requested the last line be changed from:

“Such as she would become” to the more assertively hopeful “Such as she will become.”

This recording was made by Frost at a different time. There is no recording of him speaking at Kennedy’s inauguration.

You can read the poem Frost never got to read, entitled “Dedication,” here.

Tags:
History
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
ascension AND ASSUMPTION
Philip Kosloski
Ascension vs. assumption: What is the difference?
2
SAINT MATTHIAS
Philip Kosloski
Why Matthias was chosen to replace Judas as an apostle
3
BENOIT JOSEPH LABRE
Larry Peterson
Benedict XVI called him “one of the most unusual saintsR...
4
KNEELING
Philip Kosloski
How to pray the Divine Praises
5
Philip Kosloski
What was the message of Our Lady of Fatima?
6
I.Media for Aleteia
These 30 shrines will lead the Rosary Relay for end of the pandem...
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.