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,