The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy. Her opening paragraph is a testimony to the value of poetry in our lives.
She said: “One of the greatest gifts my brother and I received from my mother was her love of literature and language. In this anthology I have tried to include poems that reflect things that were important to her-a spirit of adventure, the worlds of imagination and nature, and the strength of love and family. There are poems to read with children, poems for readers just starting out on their own, and poems for those who have never thought poetry was for them.”
She said of her mother, “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved literature, especially poetry and said, “Once you can express yourself you can tell the world what you want from it” She also said her mother was a true romantic and responded to the poetry of love.
Caroline’s choice of what poems to begin the book, listed below, when read together tell you much about both her mother and her.
America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates
John F. Kennedy His Inauguration by Robert Frost
The Gift Outright by Robert Frost
Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I hear America Singing by Walt Whitman
Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Brown River, Smile, by Jean Toomer
She writes of poems that she had been taught to recite when she was about 3 years old. In a section titled Adventure poems of the love of heroic adventure are included. Sections titled Escape and Reflection bring thoughts that show “A Poem comes to us almost like a message in a bottle ….and can carry thoughts from other times or places.
The last section is her mother “In Her Own Words”. She said English teachers changed her life and that she also said, “read for escape, read for adventure, read for romance, but read the great writers”.
A great book.