Thursday, March 7, 2013


March 7, 2013


Derry, New Hampshire (JFK+50) The New Republic* published Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening' 90 years ago today, March 7, 1923.

*The New Republic began publication in 1914 & in the 1960s was described as "the voice of re-invigorated illustrated when the dashing young President Kennedy (was) photographed boarding AF 1 holding a copy."

                       Robert Frost Farm
                  Derry, New Hampshire 
                 Photo by Craig Michaud
                   at en.wikipedia (2009)

Robert Frost,** who has been called one of the greatest American poets of the 20th century, wrote the poem in June 1922 in Shaftsbury, Vermont.

He had stayed up all during the night writing 'New Hampshire' & then was inspired to write 'Stopping By Woods' after going outside to look at the New England sunrise.

Mr. Frost was 86 years old when he read his poem, 'The Gift Outright,' at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961.***

And on the morning of November 23, 1963, Sid Davis closed his coverage of the arrival of JFK's body at the White House with the passage "The woods are lovely, dark & deep, but I have promises to keep & miles to go before I sleep.'

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods & frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of the easy wind & downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark & deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

**Robert Frost (1874-1963) was born in San Francisco.  His father, William Prescott Frost, Jr. was editor of the SF Evening Bulletin.  After his father's death in 1885, the family moved to Lawrence, MA & later to Derry, NH.

Mr. Frost lived in the UK from 1912-1915 & after returning to the US taught at Middlebury College from 1921-1963.

***JFK invited RF to his inaugural.  RF wrote a new poem for the occasion but could not read the printed words due to the bright sunlight.  He recited 'The Gift Outright' from memory.

    JFK & Robert Frost at 1961 Inaugural

The original poem, in Frost's own handwriting, showed up in the mail at the JFK Library in 2006.  With the poem was a note from Jackie Kennedy which said "this is the 1st thing I had framed to put in (the oval) office."

                      JFK Library, Boston

When President Kennedy spoke at Amherst College in honor of Frost, he said:

"Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs & controls our strength matters just as much.  This was the specific significance of Robert Frost."