Kennedy Library Dedication Poem Read by John F. Kennedy, Jr., October 20, 1979

"I think continually of those who were truly great" 
by Stephen Spender 


I think continually of those who were truly great. 
Who from the womb, remembered the soul's history 
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns, 
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition 
Was that their lips, still touched with fire, 
Should tell of the Spirit clothed from head to foot in song. 
And who hoarded from the Spring branches 
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms. 

What is precious is never to forget 
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs 
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth. 
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light 
Nor its grave evening demand for love. 
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother 
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit. 

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields 
See how these names are feted by the waving grass 
And by the streamers of white cloud 
And whispers of wind in the listening sky. 
The names of those who in their lives fought for life 
Who wore at their hearts the fire's center. 
Born of the sun they traveled a short while towards the sun, 
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.