Tuesday, January 20

A Poem for New Times, from Elizabeth Alexander

     How wonderful was it, that our newly elected President Obama, chose a poet to present a poem, specially written for this occasion, immediately following his inaugural speech today?  May the arts continue to have such a place of honor in this administration.  

     Connie, over at Dirty Footprints, passed on a petition to me, which asks the new president to consider creating a position for Secretary of the Arts.  Great idea, right?!  If you think so, click on this "Secretary of the Arts" link and sign on to help make the arts take a formal place of importance in elevating our society.

     In the mean time, here is Elizabeth Alexander's poem, which I found to be quite moving, and worth sharing:

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.


  1. I loved the poem she wrote for the inauguration - How appropriate! Thank you for this post!

  2. Thank you so much for including the poem. If a canadian neighbour can be so bold, let me add, not only walking forward in that light, but doing so with head held high! Blessed Be!

  3. Karin, you are an angel to permit readers to re-experience these timeless words. Love certainly enables each human being to bask in the glory of a timeless, sacred light. It is ever-present, deeply meaningful and renewing for all whatever they choose to see.

  4. You are all welcome - I knew I wanted to reread and take in her words more deeply after hearing them, so I was sure others would, too. It's great to be able to share something that inspires our northern neighbors :)

  5. Karin thanks for putting this post out, I had not heard all of the poem.

    Now what I love about this (Mr. President) having a poetry read is that to me it shows his heart and the difference with Bush because I believe if poetry was read in front of him or his devil side-kick they both would have snickered.

    Okay, I forgot, I'm trying to be nicer.

    Love Renee

  6. I really, really enjoyed that poem too and watched it several times on YouTube. It's nice to know others also liked it.


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