Why Wait for Science

Washington, DC: The White House, nd [1961?]. First separate edition (?). Broadside, 8 x 6 inches, printing Frost's poem on a parchment-like paper with the letterhead "The White House / Washington." Signed by Frost at the end and inscribed by him "For Dr Kisti specially." The poem was originally published in the November, 1946, issue of The New Hampshire Troubadour as "The Getaway" and first published under this title in Steeple Bush (1947). The recipient, George B. Kistiakowsky, served as Special Assistant for Science and Technology to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959-1961, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House, January 18, 1961, two days before John F. Kennedy was inaugurated; some number of copies of this poem may have been struck for the former event, or something similar, and inscribed by Frost for use by Kistiakowsky. We have been unable to find this printing described in any Frost bibliography, biography, or other reference and have not found it separately catalogued on OCLC or other online resources; a second copy, not separately catalogued, is held by Harvard, in the Harry Levin Papers, inscribed as this example is, with somewhat differing letter formations. Fine. (#5994). Item #58787

Kistiakowsky (1900-1982), a native of the Ukraine, studied physical chemistry in Germany in the 1920s before emigrating to the United States where he taught briefly at Princeton before taking a position on the faculty at Harvard in 1928. He remained affiliated with that institution for the rest of his life, but also offered other service to the government, working on the Manhattan Project during World War II and filling several science-related posts in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. In his later years Kistiakowsky was a political activist, opposing the war in Vietnam and advocating various arms reduction policies. Harry Levin (1912-1994) was a literary critic and scholar of modernism and comparative literature; he was a colleague of Kistiakowsky's, serving as a Harvard faculty member, 1939-1983. For an account of Kistiakowsky's White House experiences, see his autobiography "A Scientist at the White House: The Private Diary of President Eisenhower's Special Assistant for Science and Technology" (Harvard U. Press, 1976), although neither Frost nor this poem is mentioned.

Price: $3,750.00

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