Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday

Ah, the hard knock life of a poet. Elizabeth Alexander - laureate or loser?

Reading over the summaries of yesterday's events, I could not find many favorable reviews regarding Ms. Alexander's poem.

Me? Well, I must be an alto in the Plebian Chorus of Idiots, because I loved it. LOVED IT.

While not even I will argue that The Man is a tough act to follow, I did find the poem's imagery a logical continuation of President Obama's, and altogether timeless & enchanting.

And her delivery? Deliberate and passionate.

Just in case you missed it:

"Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration"

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.


Candy said...

i think I was put off by her delivery, which was just so stilted in my ears. It reads beautifully, though, thanks for sharing it.

wrh said...

It's better on the page/screen.

A little.

Mental P Mama said...

I don't think her delivery was all that. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

I was not impressed during delivery. But I thought about it throughout the day. I finally decided that I liked it. Quite a lot actually. But not so much on the delivery.

Baroness von B said...

Countesses Candy, WRH & MPM: Like I said - she was put in an awkward position of following an amazing, charismatic orator.

No one could compare. Besides, she's a poet, for god's sake, not Oprah!
(oops - did that just slip out?)

Countess AG: See above. She probably cobbled this in relative solitude, and ended up reading it live in front of 1.8 million people who were walking back to the subway. Not the usual day in the life.

Anonymous said...

Gasp! You spoke the name of She Who Will Not Be Named!

imom said...

I love reading it, not so much listening to her recite it... I especially love this line:
We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

Thanks for posting it, I didn't pay attention to it originally.

Anonymous said...

Giving the frigid temps, and a crowd of 15 bazillion people watching, I think she did a fine job. Way better than I could have pulled off . . .

Baroness von B said...

Count TD: Finally, another person in my court!!

Thanks for throwing your hat in the pro-Alexander ring - you are very brave, sir.

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