(Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963, read this poem at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.)


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


In Massachusetts, in Virginia,


But we were England’s, still colonials,


Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,


Possessed by what we now no more possessed.


Something we were withholding made us weak


Until we found out that it was ourselves


We were withholding from our land of living,


And forthwith found salvation in surrender.


Such as we were we gave ourselves outright


(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)


To the land vaguely realizing westward,


But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,


Such as she was, such as she would become.