The Gift of a Nation

 

Robert Frost’s (1874-1963)  poem The Gift Outright  which was first published in 1941 begins with the following lines:

 

The land was ours before we were the land’s.

She was our land more than a hundred years

Before we were her people…

 

RobertFrost

The poem narrates America’s history as a nation from the time of the early European colonists, who still considered themselves English. The early settlers understandably lacked a national identity.

The ‘gift’ of their identity was eventually gained as a result of struggle and war, leading to their freedom and embracing their new land and American identity:

‘(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)’  (line 13)

The Gift Outright” became famous after eighty-seven-year-old Frost recited it at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, on January 20, 1961.

It is considered a triumphantly patriotic work, which Frost himself compared to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In this poem Frost identifies ‘we’ and ‘ours’ as the white settlers from Europe, rather than the original “owners” of the land, the Native Americans.

In any case, this poem coincides with the spirit of the 4th of July which ignores the conflict between the colonists and the Native Americans, and instead focuses on the clash between the British (Old World) and the colonists (New World).

Writing_the_Declaration_of_Independence_1776_cph_3g09904

This is an artistic representation (left to right) of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration (Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900)

The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776), proclaimed that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, as thirteen independent states forming a nation called, the United States of America, which as we all know, gradually yet unrelentingly expanded towards the west, and south-west, to become the most powerful nation in the 21st century.

Many things have happened since July 4th, 1776, but one thing is certain, this day is still celebrated as the birth of a collective sense of ‘American (USA) Nation’.

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends, followers, and readers!

 

9 thoughts on “The Gift of a Nation

  1. Thank you for your good wishes on the Fourth! I love Robert Frost’s poetry and am so glad you chose The Gift Outright. I remember watching Frost recite that poem at JFK’s inauguration when I was a child. That poor man – it was bitter, bitter cold and he looked frozen.!

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    1. Wow! You saw history in the making. What a moment it must have been. I also love Frost.
      JFK, was a/the hero in my childhood. I went to a convent school (90% Irish Catholics). I’m afraid I only remember the shock of his assassination… but that’s another story, perhaps for November.

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  2. I loved the history lesson (and that’s saying a LOT from one who struggled with the topic in school…) 🙂 Thank you! Enjoy your holiday and be safe! ❤

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  3. Nice post! When I read Frost’s poem I think about the respect for the nature, the land as he says, taking good care of it, the land will always give back precious stuff to us. Have a great Sunday!

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    1. Thank you. I have great respect for the culturally diverse people who live in the USA. I have been fortunate to travel there on several occasions, and once I visited a Ute Indian Reservation, in Utah. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. You have a wonderful land and people: a gift.

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