SharingPoets@StPaul - February 2021

Poetry is an essential and vibrant component of developing our cultural discourse; it is less often featured in the role of framing our political values at the highest levels of the civic process. Read an excerpt from this month's discussion starter below to consider the intersection between these dimensions as we strive for the creation of a more perfect union.

SharingPoets for February 2021


No Republican president-elect has had a poem read at his inauguration. The first poet to read at one was Robert Frost. He composed “Dedication” to read at John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration. A few years later the President appeared at the groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College where he spoke about the power of poetry in the realm of politics:


"When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."


Below are excerpts from all the poems written for US Presidential Inaugurations. Together, they form a chronicle of the nation’s concerns in the past sixty years; they also show the way to the better country we are always trying to become.


from The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman (Joe Biden’s Inaugural)


Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

And no one shall make them afraid

If we're to live up to our own time

Then victory won't lie in the blade

But in all the bridges we've made

That is the promise to glade

The hill we climb

If only we dare

It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it's the past we step into

and how we repair it

We've seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy

And this effort very nearly succeeded

But while democracy can be periodically delayed

it can never be permanently defeated


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See the document attached below for the rest of our monthly discussion starter. And make sure to send your name and email to Fr. Tom Holahan, CSP at tholahan@paulist.org to be included in the discussion group if you haven't already done so!


SharingPoets discussion starter Feb 2021
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