Inauguration Poetry

I’m not an inauguration kind of person.  I know they happen, but political speeches just don’t do it for me.  Even on a day when I was particularly glad that a certain inauguration was happening, I just didn’t want to watch.  Except for the poetry.  I can’t put the whole poem here (copyright issues) but I like this part quite a bit:

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

I was surprised to discover that only four presidents have included poetry at their inaugurations: JFK, Clinton, Obama and now Biden (Carter had a poem but it was read at the gala not the swearing-in ceremony).   It will be interesting to see if the other party eventually decides to add poetry to their inauguration traditions.

While I’m happy about events this week, I admit I am still shaken by what the last four years has unearthed and disgorged in our nation.  So here is my haiku for the inauguration:

Breathing easier –

But still worried about us,

Too many crazies.

Any poetry speaking to you this week?  Yours or anybody else’s?

32 thoughts on “Inauguration Poetry”

  1. Today is St. Agnes Day, so last night was the eve of St. Agnes, which reminded me of the poem by Keats of the same name. It is 42 stanzas long, and quite the romantic work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I am not, at heart, a poet. I am just too pragmatic. This does not mean I do not appreciate poetry. But to get to that point I have to take the time to hear or read it, which is difficult for me. There are things that need doing, after all!

    That said, the inaugural poem, and the young woman who composed and read it, blew me away. Such impact. Such master of meter and meaning she embodied. It was so powerful, seeming to be a verbal sage cleansing that moved me beyond. I needed the ritual and the ceremony of it all to let go of the past 4 years and all it represented about our nation. That one piece so perfectly represented the day that I cannot bring another poem to mind. It filled the day.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. My many moves have severed me from poetry books I once loved and owned. My feud with Microsoft has blocked me from access to poems I collected on my computer.

    So I’ll just say this: I once regarded poetry as an affectation to be urgently avoided, like fish left so long in a warm place it stinks. Then someone taught me that I was a fool for rejecting poetry out of hand. Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” introduced me to accessible and delightful poetry. I can do nothing about the fact the man himself is controversial and puzzling, but I often thank him for allowing me to enjoy the sweet and exotic world of poetry.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I have zero space for storing books here, so the answer is no. I’ve just had to accept that the whole business of owning a private library was a thing that fit my earlier life but not my current one. The poetry books I used most often were the two collections Garrison published.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. poetry is just the thing
    to make your mind jump up and spring

    talking drones and goes too long
    but poetry songs life in a song

    at 22 she so very young
    to have such words roll off the tongue

    in yellow coat on a sunny day
    her poem of hope did lead the way

    our nations great lest we forget
    when times are hard our jaw gets set

    we know our time will come again
    well it’s here now we can begin

    a poet calls and we all know
    ready set now here we go

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Here’s one I was able to find:


    The name of the author is the first to go
    followed obediently by the title, the plot,
    the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
    which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

    as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
    decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
    to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

    Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
    and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
    and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

    something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
    the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

    Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
    it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
    or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

    It has floated away down a dark mythological river
    whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

    well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
    who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

    No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
    to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
    No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
    out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You just can’t go wrong with Billy Collins. He does a daily poetry reading on FB. Yesterday he skipped it; this is what he had to say about that:
        “There will be no Wednesday Poetry Broadcast. Amanda Gorman hit the highest possible note in poetry today. If you missed her reading, you can watch it online. Her poem should be heard by all Americans and by people around the world who are concerned about the future of the United States.”
        “For while we have our eyes on the future,
        history has its eyes on us.”

        Liked by 5 people

        1. I’ve signed up for that, thanks for mentioning it.
          I used to enjoy Garrison and the Writers Almanac. But my schedule changed or it did or something and I haven’t heard it in years now.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice, Sherrilee…This may or may not be a true poem, but Robin emailed this to our book club yesterday:

    A Prayer for this Day of Inauguration
    by Courtney Martin

    May the transition be peaceful and joyful.

    May we breathe easier, but never take that breath for granted.

    May we strive, not for the simple relief of moving on, but the complex liberation of accountability.

    May we honor one another’s grief—political and personal, the ebb and flows.

    May we shed our notions of exceptionalism and wear our humility permanently.

    May we not forget how fragile our democracy is; may we work to make it heartier against depraved egos and twisted manipulation.

    May we turn our sacred attention towards all that has been neglected in these four years.

    May we tell a more accurate story of America forevermore.

    May we seize the opportunity to redesign our broken and unjust systems.

    May we, even in the absence of a villain, especially in the absence of a villain, fight like hell for the country of our dreams.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. At Trump’s passing..
    “The wretch, concentred all in self,
    living shall forfeit fair renown
    and doubly dying shall go back
    to the vile dust from whence he sprung,
    unwept, unhonored and unsung.”
    Sir Walter Scott

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I am not a poetry aficionado but was just blown away by Amanda Gordon’s inaugural poem. Such inspired and inspiring words from a 22 year old. It gives me hope for the future. I also like all the poems listed so far in this blog. A local woman, Brittany Delaney, also writes powerful poetry.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I love poetry. Having been an English major, however, I also understand why a lot of people don’t respond to it. I’m a firm believer that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, but also that it isn’t necessarily poetry just because it does. This poem by Billy Collins gets to the heart of it:

    Introduction to Poetry
    by Billy Collins

    I ask them to take a poem
    and hold it up to the light
    like a color slide

    or press an ear against its hive.

    I say drop a mouse into a poem
    and watch him probe his way out,

    or walk inside the poem’s room
    and feel the walls for a light switch.

    I want them to waterski
    across the surface of a poem
    waving at the author’s name on the shore.

    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I almost posted that one instead of the poem about forgetfulness! Collins has taught poetry (many poets have) and so knows the stiffness with which many students approach poetry.

      I thought poetry was okay until I had some of it force-fed to me in grad school. The single poem that did the most to turn me against poetry was The Waste Land. That’s a classic example of poetry that seems incomprehensible without a world of footnotes explaining obscure references. The poetry of The Writer’s Almanac presents poetry as a sort of language playground where the point of it all is enjoyment.

      Liked by 4 people

  10. OT – I know that not every baboon is on FB, but for those of you who are, there are hundreds of really hilarious memes of Bernie, sitting, arms folded across his chest, wearing a pair of hand knit mittens given to him by one of his constituents a couple of years ago, floating around. This less than glamorous photo has been photoshopped into so many really fun scenes, for example sitting on a bench with Forest Gump. I love the creativity and humor. I’m sure these can be found elsewhere on the internet if you’re interested in a good chuckle.

    Liked by 3 people

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