Poetry News

Robert Frost's "Dedication" to Kennedy, 50 years later

By Harriet Staff

The Boston Globe's Alan Wirzbicki has published the full text of Robert Frost's "Dedication," the poem he wrote for John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration. Frost never read the poem that day, instead reciting "The Gift Outright" when the combination of sun and snow proved too bright for reading the words on the page. In a ceremony today, Rep. Daniel P. Coughlin finally honored both Frost and Kennedy by reading "Dedication" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's inauguration.

Unlike "The Gift Outright," "Dedication" was written specifically for Kennedy, even making reference to his razor-thin victory over Vice President Richard M. Nixon. ("The greatest vote a people ever cast, / So close yet sure to be abided by.")

And it ends with a poignant hope that the new president would lead the nation to the "next Augustan age" -- "A golden age of poetry and power / Of which this noonday's the beginning hour."

Originally Published: January 21st, 2011