January 22, 2013

"Richard Blanco's inaugural poem for Obama is a valiant flop."

"'One Today' has some fine lines, but writing good poetry for a grand national celebration is an impossible feat."

51 comments:

Rob said...

They're half-right: it was a flop, but not particularly valiant. Poetry doesn't necessarily have to rhyme, but it should have something that sets it apart from prose. The inaugural poem didn't.

creeley23 said...

Ann: There's a square-bracket at the end of the link causing it to fail.

Lyle said...

Never talk about wind power in a poem circa 2013.

Palladian said...

Why is a presidential inauguration a "grand national celebration"? I'm not only asking this about our current president, but all of them.

Somewhere we confused "president" with "monarch". And since Obama, the media/entertainment industry has so thoroughly commodified the office of the presidency, and relies on it (and it, currently, on them) for such a significant bit of revenue, that I can't see the trend towards ever-more monarchical ceremonial being reversed— that is, not until a Republican is elected again.

Scott M said...

People who recite poetry in public most likely have other character flaws.

Maguro said...

No worries, there won't be a Republican elected President any time soon. Better buy up those DC caterer stocks.

Titus said...

He's a fag.

Titus said...

The linky winky doesn't work either Mary.

campy said...

Obama's sure He could write a better poem than His poet.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"Inauguration is for poets what Christmas is for midget actors." --David Iowahawk Burge

Rich B said...

Couldn't they have just recycled a limerick for the inauguration?

rehajm said...

Thank fucking godd we've been wasting taxpayer dollars on poet laureates all these years...

bagoh20 said...

How are going to write a poem for a god.

This whole pageantry is way out of line for this country. It has some significance when we change parties, but a reelection is no great American happening.

Amartel said...

Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Surely, Blanco's poem could not have been worse than Maya Angelou's at Clinton's first inaug.

Dreadful stuff.

Richard Dolan said...

Palladian doesn't think much of making a presidential inauguration into a national celebration. But the president is the only officer chosen by the entire nation acting as one (the VP is chosen by the president and neither counts nor matters). An inauguration also marks the transition from one leader to his successor, according to democratic process,, which is still an exceptional way of transferring power in the world.

The inauguration thus celebrates the nation more than the temporary occupant of the office.

As for the poem, it was an even bigger flop for those present than it was for those watching on TV. No one was paying much attention to him, just wishing instead that he would get to the end of hos droning.

Rob said...

There was a young man named Barack,
A reliable Chicago hack,
He said he'd arrange
To bring hope and change,
But sadly he didn't know jack.

chickelit said...

Two complaints: his insistence on injecting PC Spanish pronunciation into his English. Second, why was this an occasion for a generic swipe at fathers?

...sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

john said...

There's at least a dozen would-be bards among the commentariat here,
who would gladly pen an Obama poem merely for the acknowledgement,

or a beer.

bagoh20 said...

"The inauguration thus celebrates the nation more than the temporary occupant of the office."

Usually, but not this one. I was touched by watching the emotion of a lot of people, but then I would think about it, and say WTF? There is just nothing to this man. His skin color? Really that where we are today in 2013? Afterward I mostly felt embarrassed for us.

Palladian said...

Palladian doesn't think much of making a presidential inauguration into a national celebration. But the president is the only officer chosen by the entire nation acting as one (the VP is chosen by the president and neither counts nor matters). An inauguration also marks the transition from one leader to his successor, according to democratic process,, which is still an exceptional way of transferring power in the world.

I understand this, but I contend that it could be done in a very moderate way, with a small ceremony and solemnities. And I don't think it should be done at all (save the official swearing-in) if it's a first-term president moving into his or her second term. It's simply a waste of money and is mostly viewed by the average citizen as a victory celebration for a single politician, not as some abstract celebration of the Republic.

The inauguration thus celebrates the nation more than the temporary occupant of the office.

You must be talking about some other celebration then, because the Obama-palooza yesterday wasn't about anything but him.

creeley23 said...

Blanco's poem is sufficiently well-crafted to be called a "valiant flop."

The Elizabeth Warren and Maya Angelou poems were so bad that no one could say anything -- the poets being black women linked to the civil rights movement.

"One Today" fails to rise to the occasion, which understandably is a fierce challenge to meet. The poem is too long and tries too hard to say the PC predictable things.

Titus said...

I am watching the gayest thing...Anderson Cooper interviewing Jason Wu about Mooche's dress.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry about the bad link.

Fixed.

ricpic said...

Blanco: We're all one. We're all one.

Me: No we're not.

Blanco: You a racist?

Me: Yes.

Blanco: We're all one but him. We're all one but him.

Me: Freedom, it's wonderful.

chrisnavin.com said...

I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Rome, called Biggus Dickus.

chrisnavin.com said...

Roses are red, violets are blue
Unfortunately Obama's your President too.

Lem said...

Poetry is dead... and the song follows.

Palladian said...

Eternal source of light divine
with double warmth thy beams display,
and with distinguish'd glory shine,
to add a lustre to this day.

The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Let all the winged race with joy
their wonted homage sweetly pay,
whilst tow'ring in the azure sky
they celebrate this happy day:
The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Let flocks and herds their fear forget
lions and wolves refuse their prey
and all in friendly consort meet,
made glad by this propitious day.
The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Let rolling streams their gladness show
with gentle murmurs whilst they play,
and in their wild meanders flow,
rejoicing in this blessed day.
The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Kind health descends on downy wings;
angels conduct her on the way.
T'our glorious King new life she brings,
and swells our joys upon this day.

The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Let envy then conceal her head,
and blasted faction glide away.
No more her hissing tongues we'll dread,
secure in this auspicious day.
The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

United nations shall combine,
to distant climes the sound convey
that 'Bama's actions are divine,
and this the most important day!
The day that gave great 'Bama birth
who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Titus said...

I actually kind of liked his poem, and not because he is a fag.

I liked the waking up and looking in the mirror all over the country and holding a door for someone. I actually thought about it today so it has some impact on me.

Palladian said...

Alright, alright, I stole it! But I doubt Queen Anne cares. And hey, it's already been set to music! Beyonce can sing it at the third inauguration. I'm sure she's quite proficient at moving her lips to the Handel...

Titus said...

I talked to my dad tonight and he told me he wants me to have all his guns-he has like 30 or something.

What the hell am I going to do with them? And don't say kill myself Palladian.

My dad would take me out when i was little and make me shoot 12 gauges and the gun would "pump" back at my shoulder and it hurt really bad-I cried after shooting it.

Titus said...

I have something to admit-I make a pretty good salary and I know shit about computers.

Today for the first time I inserted a cell in Excel and was so proud of myself. I call my Indy hubby constantly asking how to do computer stuff.

I also received a word document from my manager with all kinds of edits, red lines and shit and I learned how to clear all that shit out and make a clean document.

I don't even know how to put a link in an email or posting like Palladian just did. Or put a picture up on my blogger id.

Group hug.

n said...

I'm waiting for OPI to create a line of nail polish colors called Inauguration 2013 that includes Pencil Yellow School Bus and Plum-blush of Dusk. Any other ideas?

YoungHegelian said...

@Palladian,

But I doubt Queen Anne cares. And hey, it's already been set to music!

And it really is one of the best pieces Handel ever wrote, too.

I gotta admit, however, that recordings that don't use both a countertenor AND a female alto really piss me off. The piece is built around the conceit of theater meets chapel in praise of Queen Anne, and no female alto spoils it.

I mean, jeez, Handel put the names of the original soloists right there in the score, so we know what he's looking for.

Paul said...

Fake song, fake swearing in, so an awful poem is no big deal.

Palladian said...

I gotta admit, however, that recordings that don't use both a countertenor AND a female alto really piss me off.

The less women involved the better, as far as I'm concerned.

chickelit said...

Technically, pencil yellow and school bus yellow are different colors. School bus yellow is also known as chrome yellow and gets its name from lead chromate.

I'm not sure what goes into pencil yellow (or school bus yellow these days) but Blanco's poem was the first time I saw them equated.

edutcher said...

Maya Angelou got the same reaction, so I guess it's OK.

What we need is somebody who can write stuff like

Now, in Inja's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time,
A-soldierin' of Her Majesty, the Queen,

Of all that black-faced crew,
The whitest man I knew,
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

Henry said...

Ozymandias was taken.

Palladian said...

I'm not sure what goes into pencil yellow (or school bus yellow these days) but Blanco's poem was the first time I saw them equated.

School Bus Yellow is now "Pigment Yellow 65", which is (I think) an azo pigment. Pencils are probably another one of the PY azo yellows as well.

rcocean said...

O' Obama - An inaugural poem:

Shall I compare Obama to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Chip Ahoy said...

There once was a lily upright and pure white
Given a fresh coat of white paint.
And a solid gold ingot abused with
An electroplate coat of Au.
And that flower patch aint
flowery enough without a pint
of Avon poured on.
A fresh band has grown on
the rainbow that's flown
And the night sky adorned with new candles.


Chip Ahoy said...

Titus, all those things you mentioned are answered with delightful ease with the same tool you used to make your comment.

Mary Beth said...

This is the poem Robert Frost wrote for Kennedy's inauguration. There was a lot of glare from sun and snow, making the paper hard to read so Frost recited "The Gift Outright" from memory instead.

Dedication

Summoning artists to participate
In the august occasions of the state
Seems something artists ought to celebrate.
Today is for my cause a day of days.
And his be poetry's old-fashioned praise
Who was the first to think of such a thing.
This verse that in acknowledgement I bring
Goes back to the beginning of the end
Of what had been for centuries the trend;
A turning point in modern history.
Colonial had been the thing to be
As long as the great issue was to see
What country'd be the one to dominate
By character, by tongue, by native trait,
The new world Christopher Columbus found.
The French, the Spanish, and the Dutch were downed
And counted out. Heroic deeds were done.
Elizabeth the First and England won.
Now came on a new order of the ages
That in the Latin of our founding sages
(Is it not written on the dollar bill
We carry in our purse and pocket still?)
God nodded his approval of as good.
So much those heroes knew and understood,
I mean the great four, Washington,
John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison
So much they saw as consecrated seers
They must have seen ahead what not appears,
They would bring empires down about our ears
And by the example of our Declaration
Make everybody want to be a nation.
And this is no aristocratic joke
At the expense of negligible folk.
We see how seriously the races swarm
In their attempts at sovereignty and form.
They are our wards we think to some extent
For the time being and with their consent,
To teach them how Democracy is meant.
"New order of the ages" did they say?
If it looks none too orderly today,
'Tis a confusion it was ours to start
So in it have to take courageous part.
No one of honest feeling would approve
A ruler who pretended not to love
A turbulence he had the better of.
Everyone knows the glory of the twain
Who gave America the aeroplane
To ride the whirlwind and the hurricane.
Some poor fool has been saying in his heart
Glory is out of date in life and art.
Our venture in revolution and outlawry
Has justified itself in freedom's story
Right down to now in glory upon glory.
Come fresh from an election like the last,
The greatest vote a people ever cast,
So close yet sure to be abided by,
It is no miracle our mood is high.
Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs
Better than all the stalemate an's and ifs.
There was the book of profile tales declaring
For the emboldened politicians daring
To break with followers when in the wrong,
A healthy independence of the throng,
A democratic form of right devine
To rule first answerable to high design.
There is a call to life a little sterner,
And braver for the earner, learner, yearner.
Less criticism of the field and court
And more preoccupation with the sport.
It makes the prophet in us all presage
The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young amibition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday's the beginning hour.

Tina Trent said...

Blanco achieved something I didn't think possible: he wrote a worse version of Maya Angelou's poem.

At least she attempted formal consistency. Bad formal consistency, but a try. Who could forget her amazing rhymes? sheik/greek was my favorite.

Ironically, for all the inspiration nature's offered, environmentalism seems to be especially resistant to poeticizing. Wind turbines are not poetic. I think Angelou's poem is growing on me. It's a form of nostalgia, remembering when it was Clinton in office. He has a lot of faults, but he didn't treat ordinary Americans quite so much like the enemy. Now he seems of two minds about the monster he created.

Does anyone else remember the main trope in the first several lines of Angelou's poem? It was dinosaur feces. In an extended sequence, the feces drop to the ground, fossilize, become fuel and swirl around the proceedings. But it was impossible not to see Clinton as the dinosaur.

I know this seems odd. Try reading the poem and not seeing it. I have no idea whether Angelou meant something underhanded by those lines. I can't see her as anything other than a very bad poet, unable to convey her point of view clearly.

These two poems offer a nice little tour of multiculturalism's unfolding visciousness. Angelou resorted to the attack direct: America is about killing Indians, slaughtering all the nice brown and black and yellow people. Take that, poo breathers.

Blanco is more sophisticated. Excpet when he's actually writing poetry, apparently. His heritage is that of the second generation people of color/alternative sexuality supremacist pedigree. He's spent his entire life cashing in on his identity, and it shows. It is the lingua franca and sole currency of the humanities today. These people are proceeding apace to a new sort of fascism. I use the word deliberately. Silly poems don't hide the rot.

Mick said...

There once was a fag named Barack.
Who taxed the people by ZIRP.
In fact he was British.
And his revenge was a dish.
To inhabit the Oval and Usurp.

Tina Trent said...

Blanco achieved something I didn't think possible: he wrote a worse version of Maya Angelou's poem.

At least she attempted formal consistency. Bad formal consistency, but a try. Who could forget her amazing rhymes? sheik/greek was my favorite.

Ironically, for all the inspiration nature's offered, environmentalism seems to be especially resistant to poeticizing. Wind turbines are not poetic. I think Angelou's poem is growing on me. It's a form of nostalgia, remembering when it was Clinton in office. He has a lot of faults, but he didn't treat ordinary Americans quite so much like the enemy. Now he seems of two minds about the monster he created.

Does anyone else remember the main trope in the first several lines of Angelou's poem? It was dinosaur feces. In an extended sequence, the feces drop to the ground, fossilize, become fuel and swirl around the proceedings. But it was impossible not to see Clinton as the dinosaur.

I know this seems odd. Try reading the poem and not seeing it. I have no idea whether Angelou meant something underhanded by those lines. I can't see her as anything other than a very bad poet, unable to convey her point of view clearly.

These two poems offer a nice little tour of multiculturalism's unfolding visciousness. Angelou resorted to the attack direct: America is about killing Indians, slaughtering all the nice brown and black and yellow people. Take that, poo breathers.

Blanco is more sophisticated. Excpet when he's actually writing poetry, apparently. His heritage is that of the second generation people of color/alternative sexuality supremacist pedigree. He's spent his entire life cashing in on his identity, and it shows. It is the lingua franca and sole currency of the humanities today. These people are proceeding apace to a new sort of fascism. I use the word deliberately. Silly poems don't hide the rot.

gerry said...

Poesy is dead. Rap killed it.

Jim Gust said...

Should you be interested in a good poem composed for an inauguration, see the one Archibald MacLeish wrote for Jerry Wiesner when he became President of MIT in 1971:

http://tech.mit.edu/V91/PDF/N38.pdf

I was there, as it happened.

Sam L. said...

It was but to be expected. Totally, man. I mean, Duuuuuuude!