The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Caroline Kennedy

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 192 pages
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The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy, her daughter, is a collection of classic poems that the former first lady adored for either their sense of adventure and whimsy or because she felt the passion of the love the poets expressed.  Caroline Kennedy does an excellent job of explaining why the poems meant so much to her mother and how they were selected and categorized, and it was great to see that she carried on the traditions started by her own mother with her own children.  In particular, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis started a tradition of having her children read, write, and recite poems for each holiday and birthday, and the children were encouraged to write the poems down and illustrate them, and those memories were kept in a scrapbook.  Rather than making it seem like work, it became a competition among the children to find the longest poem, the best poem, and to outshine one another when they read them.  I can only imagine what pride that gave their mother.

First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
Second Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

As with any collection dealing with the Kennedy family, it is no wonder that this poetry collection begins with poems that pay homage to America, and also includes the poem read by Robert Frost at the Kennedy inauguration.  Kennedy said at the dedication of a library named for Robert Frost, “The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, … When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.  For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.” (page 5)  There are points in the collection that will require readers to have more patience as the older poems have more complex language and verses.

The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy is a homage to poetry’s place in the United States, in politics, and in families, but it also provides a portrait of a multifaceted woman who became the darling of a nation and the face of sorrow when her husband was assassinated.  But like most women, she was more than her family, her famous husband, or her stint in the White House.  She was a passionate woman who loved the arts, particularly poetry, and wanted to pass the love of beauty onto her children.  Readers will come to see that she was successful in that endeavor at least and she inspires all mothers to do the same.

About Caroline Kennedy:

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is an American author and attorney. She is the daughter and only surviving child of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. An older sister, Arabella, died shortly after her birth in 1956. Brother John F. Kennedy, Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999. Another brother, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died two days after his birth in 1963.

Book 22 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.


  1. This sounds like an interesting collection. I love that she was all about her kids being readers!

  2. bermudaonion(Kathy) says

    As you know, I don’t read much poetry but this collection really intrigues me. I’d like to read this book.