Gift Guide

The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

( 13 )


Timed to the publication of the author+s new illustrated children+s book, A Family of Poems, the national bestseller is now available in a specially priced gift editionJacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved literature, especially poetry. -Once you can express yourself,+ she wrote, +you can tell the world what you want from it+All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.+ Now, Caroline Kennedy shares her mother+s favorite poems and the worlds behind her strong belief in the power of...
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Timed to the publication of the author+s new illustrated children+s book, A Family of Poems, the national bestseller is now available in a specially priced gift editionJacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved literature, especially poetry. -Once you can express yourself,+ she wrote, +you can tell the world what you want from it+All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.+ Now, Caroline Kennedy shares her mother+s favorite poems and the worlds behind her strong belief in the power of literature. A wonderful volume for reading aloud or by yourself, a meaningful gift or keepsake, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis offers an intimate view of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis+ world, and a poignant glimpse into her heart.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"Read for escape, read for adventure, read for romance, but read the great writers," Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once advised. "You will find to your delight that they are easier and more joy to read than the second-rate ones." This collection of Mrs. Kennedy's favorite poetry, selected and introduced by her daughter, confirms that judgment. Yeats, Dickinson, Shakespeare, and Homer are all represented. The anthology also includes one poem by the late first lady herself.
People Magazine
Great works that parents will enjoy reading to their children.
Publishers Weekly
The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have been selected by someone who should know: Caroline Kennedy. While Caroline's two confirmed appearances on the Today Show, a first serial in Good Housekeeping, and further publicity should make this easily the bestselling poetry title of the season, it doesn't hurt that Jackie's taste was excellent. Charming poems from John Clare, Kipling, and a young Jimmy Kennedy are complemented by work from Langston Hughes, Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop and by 14 b&w family photos. Caroline Kennedy has organized more than 100 poems into seven sections ("America"; "Adventure" etc.), written short, intimate introductions to each and included a small selection of Jackie's own poems. (Oct. 3) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Introduced and with a running commentary by Caroline Kennedy, these are poems her mother shared with her and that she in turn shares with her own children. It's not surprising, therefore, that many are cute little poems about animals (though written with the adult audience in mind). Others are by Robert Frost (and the tape includes him reading at JFK's inauguration), Shakespeare, Yeats, Dickinson, and several excerpts from the Greek classics. Particularly striking, set against the backdrop of the 1960s when the Kennedy children were growing up, are the poems by Langston Hughes (a particularly memorable piece about a boy looking for the Jim Crow section of the carousel), Countee Cullen, and Jean Toomer. Unfortunately, Kennedy's commentary is wooden and often refers to works not on the tape. The Lord's Prayer, America the Beautiful, and passages from the Bible seem a little too "inspirational." Still, with the inclusion of four poems written by the former First Lady herself, this is bound to be a popular item; recommended for most public libraries. Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401302481
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 9/15/2005
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 165,910
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy is the editor of the New York Times bestselling A Patriot's Handbook, Profiles in Courage for Our Time, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Family of Poems, and the co-author of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools in New York City and President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She lives in NY.
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Read an Excerpt


The idea of America -- freedom, equality, possibility -- has been celebrated in poetry, song, political rhetoric, and judicial opinion. The poems that follow serenade America and explore the individual's role in shaping our national destiny. They describe heroes like Paul Revere, the American Everyman about whom Walt Whitman sings, and those who have been shut out of the American dream but whose struggles are given voice by Langston Hughes. These poems remind us that no matter who we are, we each have an opportunity to help create the kind of society we want to live in. For America's story is still unfolding -- in the words of Robert Frost, it is our country, "such as she was, such as she will become."

"Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow always reminds me of my grandmother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. When I was a child, she was the most patriotic person I knew. At family gatherings, she used to recite this poem from memory and encouraged (with varying degrees of success) her grandchildren to do the same. She was baptized around the corner from the Old North Church and grew up in Concord, Massachusetts. Since she had been born before 1900, to me it was perfectly possible that she might have even caught a glimpse of Paul Revere.

Grandma's recitation of the poem combined patriotism, her Irish antipathy toward the English, her love of language, and her conviction that one man's courage could change the course of history. She instilled in us the belief that perhaps, if the chance came again, we would be the one to inspire others, just like Paul Revere. (Of course, as my daughter recently reminded me, it was really the poet who inspired us since there were two other men who rode that night, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, whose names are largely forgotten.)

To me, the most meaningful poem in this section is Robert Frost's "The Gift Outright," which the poet recited at my father's inauguration. By asking Frost to read that day, my father expressed his belief in the power of language and connected the inaugural ceremony to an enduring tradition of using poetry, in a sense, to sanctify an occasion.

A snowstorm had blanketed the Capitol the night before, but the morning was glistening bright. When Frost stood to read the poem he had written for the occasion, the glare was so strong he couldn't see the words on the page. He recited "The Gift Outright" from memory. The contrast between his age and my father's youth, the poet's frailty and the power of his words gave the moment a special significance.

Three years later, at the dedication of a library named for Robert Frost, President Kennedy said, "The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, but the man who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power, or power uses us…. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment."

Throughout her life, my mother took great pride in the role of poetry and the arts in my father's administration. She celebrated American arts and artists in the White House, believing, as my father did, that America's artistic achievements were equal to her political and military power, and that American civilization had come of age.

. . .

I Hear America Singing
by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day -- at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

. . .

America, the Beautiful
by Katherine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
  For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
  Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
  God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
  From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
  Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
  Across the wilderness!
    America! America!
  God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
  Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
  In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
  And mercy more than life!
    America! America!
  May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
  And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
  That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
  Undimmed by human tears!
    America! America!
  God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
  From sea to shining sea!

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi
Introduction 3
America, the Beautiful 7
For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration 9
The Gift Outright 12
Paul Revere's Ride 13
I Hear America Singing 18
Let America Be America Again 19
Brown River, Smile 23
First Poems
Introduction 31
First Fig 33
Second Fig 33
Fog 34
At the Ancient Pond 35
How Reluctantly 35
The Land of Counterpane 36
The Swing 37
Bed in Summer 38
Teddy Bear's Picnic 39
Three Ponies 41
The Yak 42
Grizzly Bear 43
The Elephant 44
The Little Turtle 45
Dogs and Weather 46
Little Trotty Wagtail 47
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 48
The Crocodile 50
Fireflies in the Garden 51
The Rose Family 52
Who Has Seen the Wind? 53
Tarantella 54
Sherwood 56
Annabel Lee 59
Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church 61
Hope is the Thing with Feathers 62
Mother to Son 63
The Red Wheelbarrow 64
Psalm 23 65
Luke 2: 1-14 66
A Visit From St. Nicholas 67
Introduction 71
Skye Boat Song 73
Cargoes 75
Sea-Fever 76
Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack 77
Tableau 78
Merry-Go-Round 79
The Road Not Taken 80
Song 81
Richard III, I, i, 1-13 82
Henry V, IV, iii, 40-67 (St. Crispin's Day Speech) 83
The Isles of Greece 84
Ulysses 88
Ithaca 91
Introduction 95
The Flowers 97
Behind Stowe 98
In Just 99
The Pasture 100
Portrait By A Neighbour 101
The Song of Wandering Aengus 102
The Lake Isle of Innisfree 103
The Odyssey, Book IX 104
The Tempest, V, i, 104-110 (Ariel's Song) 105
I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed 106
These are the Days When Birds Come Back 107
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening 108
Kubla Khan 109
The Dawn 111
Sailing to Byzantium 112
Of Mere Being 114
Romance and Love
Introduction 117
The Song of Solomon 2: 8-16 119
Paradise Lost, Book IV, 639-658 120
Romeo and Juliet, III, ii, 17-31 121
Sonnet XVIII 122
Sonnet XXIX 123
Sonnet CXVI 124
The Bargain 125
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 126
Her Reply 127
She Walks in Beauty 128
Dr. Faustus, Scene XIII 129
The Hill 130
The Vase of Perfume 131
When a Beggar Beholds You... 132
Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond 133
For C. K. at His Christening 134
A Prayer in Spring 135
Corinthians 13: 1-13 136
Introduction 139
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 140
Prayer for Peace 141
Sonnet on His Blindness 142
Death, Be Not Proud 143
Ozymandias 144
His Pilgrimage 145
Ode on a Grecian Urn 146
Antigone, Ode I 148
Agamemnon, Act I 149
Olympian Ode II 150
Magpies in Picardy 151
Aftermath 153
The Second Coming 155
Choose Something Like a Star 156
One Art 157
The Negro Speaks of Rivers 158
Acquainted with the Night 159
The Truly Great 160
For a Poet 161
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven 162
Matthew 5:1-10 163
In Her Own Words
Introduction 167
Essay 168
Sea Joy 169
Thoughts 170
Meanwhile in Massachusetts 172
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Customer Reviews

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( 13 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2001

    A Nice Collection

    Those who are critical of the selected poems as too pedestrian are missing the beauty of this book. These works spoke to the hearts of a great modern woman and her wonderful children. Poetry doesn't have to be deep or obtuse to be good. Each selection in this small collection is worth reading, and all the poetry contained here is approachable by anyone who can read or be read to. This glimpse into the soul of a family reveals something magical and touching about a woman who raised two remarkable children. Jacqueline Kennedy's children stood out as normal, solid citizens in a family and an era where that outcome was not necessarily likely. I am grateful to Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg for sharing this slice of her life and family with me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2001

    Old favorites and Wonderful Memories

    Imagine opening this beautiful collection and finding not only NEW choices I have never read...such as Poems written by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis...and OLD favorites of mine too!!! The collection is gentle reading at its best and sprinkled with different subjects that can be enjoyed at different times and moods....A Beautiful Gift for a favorite person with the Holiday season coming up or ANYTIME!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2001

    A 'Keeper'

    Caroline Kennedy has given us much more than a lovely remembrance of her mom. Mrs. O is one of our legendary First Ladies; the collection of her favorite poems emerges as part of her legacy to America and to history. The more we read, the more we understand not only Mrs. O and her times, but ourselves as Americans. Many thanks, Caroline.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2001


    Of this tribute to her mother Caroline Kennedy said, 'One of the greatest gifts my brother and I received from my mother was her love of literature and language. In this program, 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.' From 'For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration' by Robert Frost to 'Ode On A Grecian Urn' by John Keats, Ms. Kennedy's choices do reflect those elements. Poetry lovers will relish this collection which will undoubtedly hold many of their personal favorites. Among the poems found in the 'Adventure' section are 'The Isles of Greece,' by Lord Byron, selections from Shakespeare's 'Henry V,' and 'Song' by John Donne. Romance and love share the spotlight in portions of The Song Of Solomon, 'The Hill' by Rupert Brooke, and 'The Passionate Shepherd to His Love' by Christopher Marlowe. Narrators include many luminaries of stage and screen - Claire Bloom, B. D. Wong, Daniel Davis, and Jennifer Wiltsie. Readings by Ms. Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy add a very personal note to the narrative voices. Of special interest to admirers of the former First Lady will be three poems that she wrote: 'Sea Joy,' 'Thoughts' and 'Meanwhile In Massachusetts.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001

    Definitely not cutting edge

    Some readers may or may not be surprised by the unsophistication of literary taste reflected in this collection, given the anthologist's background. The bigger problem is the fact that too many of us who actually read a lot of poetry don't feel the need to own repeats of poems that we started learning in grade school....but hey, it all comes down to money, right?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001

    It's Okay

    Well, if you really have no idea how to find a book of poems, you might want to start here. But why not just go to a poetry site on the web, like the Academy of American Poets site, and find the poems you like best?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001


    At a time when we could most use a positive sourse of inspiration, once again we look towards the grace of Jacqueline Onassis. Gone in the physical sense, but ever present in the sprit of this country, its history, and one of its most shinning citizens.This book coulbn't have come at a better time, like Jacqueline its timing is impeccable. There are poems in the book I hadn't thought of in years, and some I know by heart as well as a few surprises.Its so helpful to be reminded of the courage of this great woman, and I want to express my sincere thanks to her daughter for sharing with us the magic and healing power of poerty and her mother.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001

    I hope Maya Angelou has been included

    Though I haven't read through the entire book yet, I, I pray, Maya Angelou's 'I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings' is included.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2001

    poems were her rock

    I loved this book and was soo glad Caroline came out and did this book. She had such an appriciation for poems and poetry. She had a gift for writting them also. I loved this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001


    What a wonderful book. It is a must for all to enjoy. Im so delighted Carolone shared part of her life and the life of her mother with the public. I hope her message is understood and others will encourage thier children to learn and live through poetry.

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    Posted December 17, 2008

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    Posted November 14, 2008

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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