The Gift Outright
By Robert Frost
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.
I wasn't thrilled by the poem Richard Blanco wrote for Obama's inauguration -- the reference to the Sandy Hook shootings really threw me out of it, it felt both intrusively au courant and like people who have to bring up 9/11 every Fourth of July or the Holocaust every Passover -- so here's the poem Robert Frost recited at Kennedy's inauguration by JFK's request. We spent the morning watching the inaugural festivities, which I enjoyed, though perhaps not as much as Obama's first election; I thought his speech was wonderful, I'm delighted that he talked about both climate change and gay rights as top priorities, but I am never sure whether I am hearing Candidate Obama who will fight for things or President Obama who will insist that compromise works best even in the face of rampant obstructionism. As glad as I am that he won, I'm a bit cynical about what to hope for during a second term.
In the afternoon we went to Swain's Lock to take a walk, where we saw a belted kingfisher, several ducks, some Canada geese, some adorable coots a.k.a. Plub Ducks, and lots of sun on the Potomac River. We stopped to pick up some things Daniel needed to bring back to College Park with him, then came home for dinner before taking him to his dorm, where many of his friends have already returned. Then we came home and watched The Woman In Black, which we found at the Germantown Library last week when we stopped in there. I thought Daniel Radcliffe was fine in it but the story didn't really grab me; I'm not a horror fan because I scare easily but I didn't find this scary, the pace was too glacial, the exposition too heavy-handed, the supporting cast too wooden, and the ending is a giant WTF. Some pics from Swain's Lock, which I'd give more stars: