Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!
Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating poetry- inaugural poetry, specifically.

I was browsing through the library stacks, in the poetry section- 811.5- when I saw a skinny book. It didn’t have a title on the spine but it read “The Inaugural Poem: On The Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou. I remembered watching President Obama’s second inauguration and how Richard Blanco’s “One Today” was much talked about and highly praised. I went to see if that was available in book form. It was. And, so I sought what other inaugural poems had been published and came up with “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander.

This called for a Reading Challenge. Since there were only six poems in all, I decided to read even the ones that weren’t specially published. I also decided to watch any videos of the poems being recited at their given inauguration. I’ve shared the videos.

“The Gift Outright” by Robert Frost
(John F. Kennedy 1961 Inauguration)

mayaangelou
“On the Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou
(Bill Clinton 1993 Inauguration)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59xGmHzxtZ4

“Of History and Hope” by Miller Williams
(Bill Clinton 1997 Inauguration)

elizabethalexander
“Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander
(Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration)

For All of Us, One Today by Richard Blanco
For All of Us, One Today by Richard Blanco


“One Today” by Richard Blanco
(Barack Obama 2013 Inauguration)


Honestly, none of the poems except “One Today” made much of an impact on me but that could have been because I actually watched it. And I voted during that election so the outcome was personal for me. (Read my review of “One Today” here.)

I did love learning the history of the inaugural poems. And, I wonder why they aren’t part of each celebration. What an honor for the writers to share their words on such special moments!

Edited March 25, 2021:

thehillweclimb

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

(Joe Biden 2021 Inauguration)

What are you celebrating this week?

3 thoughts on “Celebrate This Week- January 30, 2015/ The Inaugural Poems Reading Challenge

  1. I’m glad to see all of these, Earl. There is a story of the Frost reading, I’ve read before. Evidently Frost was going to recite by memory, & forgot some, I think, so went with some other words. It is interesting that some presidents don’t include poetry.

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