Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Robert Frost, My November Guest - John F. Kennedy's Inauguration

After a week of being holed up inside my house with first one malady and then another, the dark November days hang over me like the clouds over Brasstown Bald. 

I am reading lots of poetry, my own, and the work of others like Robert Frost who was my first favorite poet, and is still at the top of my list. He spoke at my college when he was a very old man, and I'll always remember his poetry reading at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy who was killed fifty years ago this week. The wind was cold, the sun on the snow blinded the 85 year old poet. When he couldn't read from his typed copy of the new poem he had written for the occasion, Dedication, he recited from memory one he had written in 1942 and which Kennedy had requested, The Gift Outright. 

 It started:
"The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours . . ." 

 Wow! I wonder how many poets I know could have done that. Below is a November poem by Frost. Hope you like it.

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise


Lise said...

Beautiful poetry. It must have been awe inspiring to be in Frost's presence!

Gay said...

Ahhh. that's MY kind of poetry! Thanks for sharing this great poet's words.

Glenda Beall said...

Lise, what stays with me from that day I saw and heard Robert Frost speak is the sound of his voice. I 'll never forget it.
My friend, Ash Rothlein, gave me a book of Frost's poems that I treasure. They were neighbors in Florida at one time.I assume Frost went there for the winter as many folks do who live in very cold climes.

Glenda Beall said...

Hi Gay, I know this is the poetry you enjoy and so do I. He was a very special poet and I was overjoyed that he was chosen as the first poet to participate in a presidential inauguration and by a man who knew and loved his poems.I feel that poetry belongs at every major event.