POEMS FOR JFK & JOHN-JOHN
To Orwell Today,
I'm trying to find the poem that an Irish poet wrote for John Kennedy when he visited Ireland right after the birth of his son, John John. I believe it was in the book "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye". If it is, do you have the name of the author?
Thank you for your help.
JFK only visited Ireland twice in his life - the first time in June 1945 and the second time in June 1963. By that time John-John was almost three years old, born as he was on November 25th, 1960, just after JFK had won the presidential election on November 8th saying, at his first press conference, "So now my wife and I prepare for a new administration and for a new baby."
On this second visit to Ireland JFK met all his distant cousins at the farmhouse of his great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, who had emigrated to America in 1848 to escape the potato famine.
The welcome and love JFK received from the Irish people lifted his spirits and warmed his heart and Dave Powers and Kenny O'Donnell chose the name of their book "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye" from a sign* somebody in the crowd held up, which was also the title of an old Irish ballad.
JFK, as most people know, loved poetry and ballads and could recite many poems and sing along to many songs. His favourite Irish song was "Danny Boy" which was also the favourite ballad of his grandfather on his mother's side, Honey FITZgerald, who used to sing it all the time.
On the last night in Ireland JFK and his party were dinner guests at the home of President de Valera whose wife, Bean, was an expert on obscure Irish poetry and she recited a poem to JFK that he thought was so beautiful he copied it onto his place card and then memorized it the next morning over breakfast. Then just before getting onto Air Force One at Shannon airport he recited it to the good-bye crowd:
"'Tis the Shannon's brightly glancing stream,
brightly gleaming, silent in the morning beam.
Oh! the sight entrancing.
Thus return from travels long,
years of exile, years of pain
to see Old Shannon's face again,
O'er the waters glancing."
Then he said, "Well, I am going to come back and see Old Shannon's face again, and I am taking, as I go back to America, all of you with me".
Five months later, on November 22nd, 1963, JFK was assassinated in Dallas, and thirty-six years later his son, John-John disappeared off the face of the earth, allegedly the victim of a plane crash not far from the point where his great-great-grandfather first touched American soil.
The poem you're thinking about may be the one Senator Edward Kennedy recited at his nephew John-John's funeral on July 23, 1999, which he said had been sent to JFK and Jackie by the Irish Ambassador shortly after John's birth:
We wish to the new child
A heart that can be beguiled
By a flower
That the wind lifts
As it passes.
If the storms break for him
May the trees shake for him
Their blossoms down.
In the night that he is troubled
May a friend wake for him
So that his time may be doubled,
And at the end of all loving and love,
May the Man above
Give him a crown.
All the best,
*UPDATE! IRISH JFK HARDLY KNEW YE SIGN (reader Peter was the person who held up the sign JFK saw in Ireland)
JFK remembered as statue. New Ross Standard, Jul 2, 2008
John F. Kennedy visit to Ireland, June 1963. JFK Presidential Library & Museum
JFK's grandfather's house sold (Honey Fitz a mayor of Boston). WashPost, Mar 29, 2006
JOHN-JOHN'S BIRTH and CAMELOT'S LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY and JULY 16 DARK DAY EVENTS and JFK JR'S CRASH STILL A MYSTERY and JFK TRUTHS & UNTRUTHS and JFK ASSASSINATION PUZZLE
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