Monday, January 19, 2009


In our current exhibition we're spotlighting the collaboration between printmaker Thomas Nason and poet Robert Frost. The two men met only once, in the Spring of 1961. Frost was, by that time, the most well-known poet in America. On January 20, 1961, Frost took the stage at President Kennedy's inauguration to read "Dedication," a poem he'd written for the event. The sun glinting off the snow made the glare too bright for Frost to read his lengthy work. Instead, he recited "The Gift Outright," a 1942 poem, from memory. 

The final lines of "Dedication" fittingly read:
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.

1 comment:

Linda Ahnert said...


I so enjoyed your post about the role Robert Frost played at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.

The inauguration of Barack Obama yesterday recalled to mind the same feeling of optimism and hope we had when JFK became president.

I remember January 20, 1961 very well. I was devastated that it was a school day because I wanted to watch all the ceremonies on TV. Then a miracle happened--there was a huge snowstorm on the East Coast and school was cancelled. Even in D.C., crews had to work feverishly to get the streets plowed.

By the time of the swearing-in, there was brilliant sunshine in Washington. And I recall Robert Frost standing at the lectern, his white hair blowing in the breeze, and feeling so sorry for him because he couldn't read his Inaugural poem in the glare.

Thank you for writing about this and for quoting the lines that Robert Frost did recite on that cold day 48 years ago.