New York: The Spiral Press, 1961. Limited and Numbered Edition. Hardcover. This is a fine press limited and hand-numbered edition printed for friends of The Spiral Press in March of 1961 commemorating Robert Frost’s participation in the January 20, 1961 Inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. The book measures 11.5 x 7.75 inches, bound in grey paper-covered boards with the Seal of the President of the United States on the front cover. The contents are printed black and red with gilt and gray illustrations on laid paper with untrimmed fore edges. Included are the poems “Dedication” and “The Gift Outright” as well as President Kennedy’s inaugural address. The presidential eagle was cut in wood especially for this publication by illustrator Fritz Kredel (1900-1973). The typography is credited to printer, publisher, typographer and Spiral Press founder Joseph Blumenthal (1897-1990). This copy is hand-numbered “426” of five hundred copies on the limitation page.
Condition is very good. The gray paper-covered binding remains square and tight with sharp corners. Doubtless, the overall excellent condition of the fragile binding owes to the presence of the tattered original, plain glassine dust wrapper. The glassine has done its job taking the brunt of age and wear and as a consequence is toned, fully separated along the spine, and chipped at all extremities. The contents remain bright with no previous ownership marks. Spotting is primarily confined to the endpapers, which also show offsetting from the dust jacket flaps. Spotting is light and intermittent throughout.
On January 20th, 1961, iconic American poet and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963) became the first poet to read in the program of a U.S. Presidential inauguration. Frost composed a new poem - “Dedication” - for the ceremony, but glare from the sun and snow famously prevented him from reading the sheet on which his poem was typed, so Frost instead recited “The Gift Outright” from memory. The new President, John F. Kennedy, would say: “I've never taken the view the world of politics and the world of poetry are so far apart.” In the case of his relationship with Frost, this was more than just sentiment. In March of 1959, at a New York City press conference preceding a gala to celebrate his 85th birthday, Frost was asked about the alleged decline of New England and replied: “The next President of the United States will be from Boston. Does that sound as if New England is decaying?” Frost repeated the endorsement in the months to come, a boon to the junior Senator from Massachusetts.
Kennedy wrote to Frost and quoted his poetry in his speeches. When Kennedy telegraphed Frost to ask him to speak at his Inauguration, Frost responded: “If you can bear at your age the honor of being made President of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration. I may not be equal to it but I can accept it for my cause – the arts, poetry, now for the first time taken into the affairs of statesmen.”. Item #005909