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Praise Song for the Day - Elizabeth Alexander

I told you about Elizabeth Alexander when it was first announced that she would be reciting an original poem on Inauguration Day for Barack Obama; and some of you commented that she had her work cut out for her.

ash said...
that's a heavy honor.....real heavy!! sort of like having this dream to protect and serve your country, and then being asked to man the front line....or something like!

Chakita said...
That is a hugh honor given to Ms. Alexander...If she is one of Barack's friends, I'm sure she has something meaningful to say.

Only the 4th poet to ever speak at an Inauguration, Alexander was following in the footsteps of the great Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and Miller Williams. Tough acts to follow, I say! Especially Maya Angelou's On the Pulse of Morning for Bill Clinton in 1993....

....The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning

Thats just a snippet! But Man! This poems gives me chills y'all. How can you compete with that?! (Watch Maya recite the entire poem)

I was eager to hear what Alexander would come up with! But I have to say....I was not moved by her piece. It was...nice. So I give her that. She gets a thumbs up, and high-five for even tackling such a challenge. But I'll keep my Michelle Obama fist bump - she can't have that. Lol.

If you missed her reading, watch here or read the poem for yourself....Tell me what you think of it in comments.

Praise Song for the Day

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
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 some one 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 thyself,
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 pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

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