Plato wanted to banish poets from his Republic because they can make lies seem like truth. Shelley thought poets were “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” and Auden insisted that “poetry makes nothing happen.” This collection of poems point to the many different kinds of political poems, and the reasons for writing them.
Ushering In: U.S. Inaugural Poems
JFK requested Frost, Clinton invited Angelou and Miller, and Obama asked Alexander: read the four poems that have been read at presidential inaugurations.
“Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander
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.
from “On the Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
“The Gift Outright” by Robert Frost
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
“Of History and Hope” by Miller Williams
But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?