"For John F. Kennedy's Inauguration" by Robert Frost

(Undelivered Inaugural Poem)

For John F. Kennedy's Inauguration

Gift outright of "The Gift Outright" 
(With some preliminary history in rhyme)
by Robert Frost

Summoning artists to participate 
In the august occasions of the state 
Seems something artists ought to celebrate. 
Today is for my cause a day of days. 
And his be poetry's old-fashioned praise 
Who was the first to think of such a thing. 
This verse that in acknowledgment I bring 
Goes back to the beginning of the end 
Of what had been for centuries the trend; 
A turning point in modern history. 
Colonial had been the thing to be 
As long as the great issue was to see 
What country'd be the one to dominate 
By character, by tongue, by native trait, 
The new world Christopher Columbus found. 
The French, the Spanish, and the Dutch were downed 
And counted out. Heroic deeds were done. 
Elizabeth the First and England won. 
Now came on a new order of the ages 
That in the Latin of our founding sages 
(Is it not written on the dollar bill 
We carry in our purse and pocket still?) 
God nodded His approval of as good. 
So much those heroes knew and understood-- 
I mean the great four, Washington, 25 
John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison-- 
So much they knew as consecrated seers 
They must have seen ahead what now appears 
They would bring empires down about our ears 
And by the example of our Declaration 
Make everybody want to be a nation. 
And this is no aristocratic joke 
At the expense of negligible folk. 
We see how seriously the races swarm 
In their attempts at sovereignty and form. 
They are our wards we think to some extent 
For the time being and with their consent, 
To teach them how Democracy is meant. 
"New order of the ages" did we say? 
If it looks none too orderly today, 
'Tis a confusion it was ours to start 
So in it have to take courageous part. 
No one of honest feeling would approve 
A ruler who pretended not to love 
A turbulence he had the better of. 
Everyone knows the glory of the twain 
Who gave America the aeroplane 
To ride the whirlwind and the hurricane. 
Some poor fool has been saying in his heart 
Glory is out of date in life and art. 
Our venture in revolution and outlawry 
Has justified itself in freedom's story 
Right down to now in glory upon glory. 
Come fresh from an election like the last, 
The greatest vote a people ever cast, 
So close yet sure to be abided by, 
It is no miracle our mood is high. 
Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs 
Better than all the stalemate an's and ifs. 
There was the book of profile tales declaring 
For the emboldened politicians daring 
To break with followers when in the wrong, 
A healthy independence of the throng, 
A democratic form of right divine 
To rule first answerable to high design. 
There is a call to life a little sterner, 
And braver for the earner, learner, yearner. 
Less criticism of the field and court 
And more preoccupation with the sport. 
It makes the prophet in us all presage 
The glory of a next Augustan age 
Of a power leading from its strength and pride, 
Of young ambition eager to be tried, 
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay, 
In any game the nations want to play. 
A golden age of poetry and power 
Of which this noonday's the beginning hour.