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Inaugural poem ‘One Today’: Do you like it?

I always enjoy inauguration day. There’s something about the ceremony and nod to our nation’s history that keeps me captivated. One of my favorite newer traditions is the inclusion of poetry. This year’s poem was delivered by Richard Blanco, the first Latino and openly gay poet to act as an inaugural poet. The poem, “One Today,” is described as an “homage to the American Experience.”

You can read the full text of here. And here’s an analysis of the work, along with some criticism found on Twitter.

Responses to "Inaugural poem ‘One Today’: Do you like it?"

Donald Munro says:

I thought the poem was beautiful, Kathy. I was interested in this response from blogger Andrew Sullivan on his site:

We’re scouring the web for literary critiques or praise of the Inaugural poem. I found it deeply moving and stirringly read. But am I wrong to hear strong echoes of Whitman, America’s national poet: the lack of rhyme, the tour d’horizon of the American particulars, the love of country, the multitudes, the people?

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

And Whitman:

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or
at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows,
robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

One gay poet speaking to another across the centuries. Or more saliently, one American poet speaking to another after so many years and so much change.

Nothing can quite match Maya Angelou for me in terms of inaugural impact. But Blanco certainly was a wonderful addition to this year’s ceremony.

George B. Feist (DUKE) says:


J. Tellstrom says:

I was immediately drawn into Blonco’s ‘One Day’ experiencing vivid images of an America I know. I felt I was the learner, worker, and mourner and connected to the hope and beauty of the country. Kudos to the poet! His poetry ought to be the headline and not demeaned by a label that might eclip its sole beauty.

Donald Munro says:

I don’t understand your comment. What demeaning label are you talking about?

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