Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Gift Outright

The Gift Outright
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 visited Lexington and Concord today, a Veterans' Day tradition I've been keeping for most of the past two decades. I often start my Christmas shopping in these two lovely colonial towns, but I mostly go there to remember...remember my way-back heritage (my mother is a Daughter of the American Revolution), remember what "they did here" that we might freely live here in this country we love that embraces democracy so fiercely and proudly.

I walked around the Lexington Green listening to a Veteran of much later wars play tribute (bottom right hand corner of the picture) on his trumpet ("Taps," "Star Spangled Banner," "The Navy Hymn," and other appropriate pieces). A moving experience, walking through the November winds with the haunting melodies floating over the fallen leaves.

I stopped by the homes of inspiring American writers (Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Alcott), by the rude bridge that arched the flood, by the homes of those who gave their lives that others might live.

I ate lunch at my favorite Market Cafe in Concord and went to my favorite local book store, The Concord Bookstore. There, I gave in to temptation and bought yet another Jane Austen-related book, A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why we Read Jane Austen. The clerk asked me if I belonged to the Jane Austen Society. When I answered "not officially," she told me about a MA chapter of the Society that was meeting this coming Sunday and said I ought to go, that I would love it. She is a member herself and said she'd look for me there! Dare I say I am going?!

In all, it was five hours of refreshment, both physically and spiritually. In all, it was exactly what I needed this day. A Gift Outright...

1 comment:

Sunny said...

What a fabulously wonderful way to spend the day! And, of course, you must join the Janes. You must go THIS Sunday. You've been invited. The lady will be looking for you. A no show would be almost a snub. And, society folks don't do the rude, dahling.